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Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Published at 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK


Lecturers' strike causes 'little disruption'

Glasgow University is among those who say they are coping

A lecturers' strike at Scotland's top universities is not causing the predicted chaos to would-be degree students, according to university officials.

Thousands of people hoping to secure places on hundreds of courses feared they would suffer when the Association of University Teachers (AUT) refused to answer inquiries on Monday and Tuesday.

But the first day of the two-day strike - which is said to be a forerunner to a more widespread walk-out when the A level results come out in England and Wales - caused little disruption.

[ image: Disruption predicted after A-Level results]
Disruption predicted after A-Level results
Universities in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh have all reported that they are coping well in spite of the industrial action over pay.

And the Student Choice Helpline, manned by professional careers advisers, said it had received very few calls about the strike.

A spokesman said: "We had around 750 calls from students and their parents on Monday, but there were very few who expressed worries over the strike at the Scottish universities.

"I think anyone who could not get through on Monday and who are unable to get through on Tuesday are sensibly leaving their calls until Wednesday."

More strikes planned

But the spokesman said a lack of disruption could not be promised when the next wave of industrial action hits on 19 and 20 August - timed to conincide with publication of the A level results.

The AUT had targeted Scotland's more established universities - Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, St Andrews, Stirling and Strathclyde.

But it appears many of the staff involved in the admissions process in Scotland were not union members.

AUT spokesman David Bleiman said on Tuesday he was pleased to hear there had not been mass panic among students.

"Before this action, we, along with other agencies, told students not to worry.

"If there has not been a panic, I am delighted by that. Our intention was to draw attention to university pay, which we feel we have done," said Mr Bleiman.

Number of strikers

He added it was difficult for him to say how many members joined the boycott on Monday.

The action was designed to disrupt the clearing process - the matching of students to unfilled places - following the publication of the Scottish Highers results last Friday.

The AUT is unhappy with the 3.5% pay offer made to its members - it wants to see a 10% increase in annual salaries.

There has already been a one-day strike, which took place in May, and some exams were disrupted in June.

University bosses say the action is unhelpful. They maintain they cannot come up with more money without extra funding from the government.

The Student Choice Helpline - whose partners include the Department for Education and Employment, the BBC, the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Careers Service - is being run in Scotland from 10am to 6pm each weekday until 19 August.

People can phone 0800 101901 for advice or to find out the most up-to-date information on courses available.

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