Religion goes 'street' in Scottish academic pension protest

By staff writers
March 18, 2011

Academics at Stirling University took part in 'teach-ins' yesterday, to coincide with national protests and strikes over controversial pension plan changes.

Dr Alison Jasper, one of the lecturers involved in the new Critical Religion research focus and blog (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14345), engaged in a seminar in a cafe. Others taught in a variety of public spaces.

Feminist interpretation of biblical texts is one of Dr Jasper's concerns. She says on her CR biography that she values "the freedom to examine everything carefully and critically and to teach others to do the same. I would certainly say that engaging critically with students and colleagues at Stirling since 2001 has been life-enhancing and it’s not something I would give up willingly!"

Members of the University and College Union (UCU), who staged walkouts over pension changes yesterday, are concerned that the future of the profession will be constrained by moves that they say will reduce benefits and increase costs.

The UCU says that 135,000 students at the universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Heriot-Watt, Dundee, Stirling and Aberdeen have been affected by the dispute. Further strikes are planned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, they say.

The protests are about changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme, a private scheme for academics at older universities.

"There is action across the UK planned for the next week, but UCU members would rather be teaching students than stood on picket lines,” says Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the University and College Union.

'Critical Religion' (http://www.criticalreligion.stir.ac.uk/blog/) was launched yesterday by academics at the University of Stirling and the beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia.


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