STUDENTS at the University of York are protesting inside Heslington Hall in support of academics involved in a dispute over their pensions.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have been taking part in strike action over an ongoing row.

This afternoon the union announced it has rejected a proposal drawn up during talks with Universities UK which would end the strikes.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "Branches made it clear today that they wanted to reject the proposal. UCU's greatest strength is that we are run by and for our members and it is right that members always have the final say.

"We want urgent talks with the universities' representatives to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved."

Nearly 200 members of the union met at the University of York this morning and Geoffrey Wall, president of the UCU in York, said the vote to reject the proposals was almost unanimous.

Strike action will continue until Friday and the union will make plans for a second wave of strikes.

Students occupied Heslington Hall in protest today and have called for vice chancellor Prof Koen Lamberts to issue a statement of support for staff.

They have also asked for him to bring an end to the dispute, protecting employees' pensions.

A statement from the students said: "We demand that vice chancellor Prof Koen Lamberts speak to us directly and engage in dialogue with students to address our concerns over the disruption in teaching.

"We demand that missed lectures not be rescheduled for the end of term or exam period.

"This would greatly increase the pressure and workload on staff and students at an important moment."

A spokesman for the University of York said the vice chancellor will meet with the protestors.

They added: “A small number of students have occupied the ground floor reception area of Heslington Hall in peaceful protest.   

“The occupation is related to support for university employees in the national dispute over the Universities Superannuation Scheme. 

“The university’s vice chancellor Professor Koen Lamberts is meeting with a number of the students to discuss their concerns.

“Heslington Hall is operating as usual.”