Response to UCU Industrial Action

1-3 December 2021

As the subject association for art history in the UK, the Association for Art History regards academics and students in the Higher Education sector as our core community. Therefore, we voice our strong support for the strike action that is currently occurring at 58 UK universities following their leaderships’ refusal to withdraw pension cuts or address falling pay and worsening working conditions within art history (and other) departments.

We are aware of the impact the new pension actuarial valuations would have on members’ retirement benefits and what the changes mean for the future art historians and students of art history. An erosion of benefits not only puts members’ future financial security at risk, it discourages those who would consider an academic career teaching art history.

The changes are part of a troubling trend in the university and cultural sectors – one which prioritises a market-based approach to higher education and exposure to the arts and humanities. This has led to students paying high fees for a university education without a simultaneous investment in full-time, permanent contracts for staff, and to the reduction of art history departments.

We recognise the dedication of our members to their students and we urge a swift resolution to the current impasse to avoid any further and significant disruption to students’ academic careers.


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