Strike action: information for students

Last updated: 1 March 2023

Find the latest information on strike action and how it could affect your studies.

What has happened?

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted to strike over pay, working conditions and pensions.

Strike action will take place in February and March. The full list of agreed dates is below:

  • Week 1 – Wednesday, 1 February   
  • Week 2 – Thursday, 9 and Friday, 10 February    
  • Week 3 – Tuesday, 14, Wednesday, 15 and Thursday, 16 February    
  • Week 4 – Tuesday, 21, Wednesday, 22 and Thursday, 23 February *paused
  • Week 5 – Monday, 27, Tuesday, 28 February, and Wednesday, 1 and Thursday, 2 March  *paused
  • Week 6 – Wednesday, 15, Thursday, 16 and Friday, 17 March    
  • Week 7 – Monday, 20, Tuesday, 21 and Wednesday, 22 March   

UCU members have also voted to take ‘action short of a strike’. This means that participating staff will work to their contractual hours only and will not take on any additional work. 

Action short of a strike began on Wednesday, 23 November 2022 and could last until Thursday, 20 April 2023.

*UCU announced on the evening of 17 February 2023 that strike action will be paused in weeks four and five, following progress in negotiations.

This means that strike action due to take place on 21, 22, 23, 27, 28 February and 1, 2 March, will no longer go ahead. University operations, including teaching, learning, research and support will therefore be fully operating as usual during this period.

What does strike action mean for students?

On strike days, there may be an impact on your teaching or research supervision, and some of your scheduled sessions may be cancelled at short notice.

It’s our aim that disruption to your learning is kept to a minimum, however, there may be some cases where we won’t find out about cancellations until the day itself. We will still do our best to give you as much notice as possible.  

How can I find out if my teaching will be cancelled?

As members of UCU don’t have to tell us ahead of taking strike action, it may not be possible for your School to let you know in advance of cancelled teaching. Please be assured that your School will do its best to get in touch if your lectures or other activities will be cancelled – but this won’t always be possible.

Where can I find support?

If you have any queries or concerns that you would usually raise with your Programme Director or Academic Advisor and they are on strike, you can contact your School support team. Our wider student support services, including 24/7 mental health and wellbeing support, are also here for you.

We recognise this is a challenging time for everyone and want to thank you for your continued hard work and patience.

Strike action FAQs for students

If you have any specific questions about teaching and learning, postgraduate researchexams and assessments, or additional support, please search our FAQs.

FAQs: teaching and learning

Will the University stay open?

Yes, the University will remain open on strike days. It's our aim that all our campus spaces remain open and that activities and services run as normal. However, there will be some disruption.

Will shared facilities (such as the Library) continue to operate?

It is our priority that shared spaces and facilities remain open for students to visit and use as normal. We will do our best to let you know about any changes.

Will teaching and/or research be affected?

It is likely that teaching will be affected by the strike action. On strike days, lecturers and other members of University staff may choose not to work, which could lead to the cancellation of lectures, seminars, 1-2-1s and supervised research.

Will I be told in advance of changes to my scheduled teaching?

Your School will work hard to minimise disruption and, wherever possible, to let you know of any cancelled teaching in advance  however, it may not always be possible to inform you in advance, as members of UCU do not have to advise the University of their specific plans to take strike action ahead of doing so.

Will my lecturers contact me during the strike?

Lecturers who take strike action may not contact you as expected or respond to emails during this time.

Who should I contact to see if I’m affected?

Your School will do its best to let you know in advance if any of your teaching is affected, although this may not always be possible.

Will alternative teaching materials be made available?

We’ll encourage staff to make recordings or teaching materials available if and when teaching is disrupted or cancelled.

Please speak to the relevant member of teaching staff to ask if they can make such materials available.

Will cancelled teaching be rescheduled?

In some cases, teaching and support cancelled due to the strike may be rescheduled. If this applies to your course, your School will be in touch when they have more information. We know that colleagues taking part in strike action will do what they can to ensure that your intended learning outcomes continue to be met. 

Will the University refund tuition fees?

We’ll do everything we can to minimise disruption to students during the strike action, and will try to offer suitable alternatives to cancelled teaching or other activities. We know that colleagues taking part in strike action will do what they can to ensure that your intended learning outcomes are still met.

We’ll also work to suitably address any individual concerns or issues caused by the strike action. We believe that taking practical action of this kind is the appropriate way to address students’ concerns. 

Will my visa status be affected?

Your Student route visa (formerly Tier 4 visa) status will not be affected by strike action, but it’s important you continue to attend all scheduled teaching and study sessions, submit coursework and anything else that has been identified as an engagement point, unless told otherwise. 

FAQs: postgraduate research

Will supervised research sessions be affected?

Your School will be able to advise whether to continue with your research sessions if supervision is disrupted. Please get permission from your supervisor to carry on with your research in their absence and continue to follow the usual health and safety procedures during your research sessions.

Will scheduled viva/annual progression reviews go ahead?

If your viva or annual progression review meeting is scheduled during the strike action, you should contact your supervisor to confirm whether it will go ahead.

You may not find out until the day so, in the meantime, assume that it will take place and submit your thesis on time.

I’m a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) – will I continue to be paid for any teaching that’s cancelled due to strike action, even if I am not on strike myself?

The University will ensure that no employees (including GTAs) are negatively impacted financially as a result of strike action where teaching, or other paid activity, is cancelled.

FAQs: exams and assessments

Will scheduled exams/assessments take place during the strike?

If you are getting ready to sit exams or have assessment deadlines, continue to prepare for and attend these. Your School will inform you of any changes to your schedule, but because they may not find out about these until the day, it’s important you prepare as normal.

Your School will keep you clearly informed of what will happen around assessments that are intended to cover topics that have not yet been taught. Faculties can draw on a range of mitigations to ensure you are not disadvantaged, while still protecting the quality of your award and adhering to the standards expected for our accredited awards with professional and/or regulatory bodies.

If you are a postgraduate research student with a viva or annual progression review meeting scheduled during the strike action, contact your supervisor to confirm whether it will go ahead. You should continue on the assumption that it will take place and submit your thesis on time, unless you are told otherwise.

Will scheduled deadlines for projects and coursework remain in place?

Please submit all projects and coursework by the set deadline. Normal penalties will apply if your work is late or not submitted, even if there is strike action that day.

Will assessment/feedback be delayed?

We’ll do our best to continue to return feedback by the agreed deadlines and have asked Schools to prioritise exam and assessment activities over other work. However, there may be a delay in receiving some of the feedback you're expecting.

Will the impact of the strike be considered by examination boards?

If your assessment has been affected by the strike, this will be taken into account when exams and assessments for the affected units are marked. Our priority is to ensure you are treated fairly.

Schools will provide examination boards with information of any disruption and this will be taken into account when reviewing marks.

FAQs: additional support

What's a picket line?

A picket line is made up of a group of up to six union members – although it can be one member of staff alone – outside of a place of work. They may hand out posters or leaflets that provide information on their decision to strike, or badges for people to wear in support.

Can I cross a picket line?

Yes – while some people choose not to cross picket lines to show solidarity with those on strike, this is your personal choice. If you miss a scheduled lecture due to not crossing a picket line, you will be marked as absent.

Staff on picket lines are expected to be peaceful and respectful of students and staff who are not on strike. You will not be prevented from crossing a picket line, and should not be made to feel uncomfortable for doing so.

How can I make a complaint?

If you have experienced a problem relating to teaching during the strike and it's not been possible to resolve this with your School, you can get support from the Students’ Union’s free and impartial advice service. To make a complaint, please follow the University’s complaints procedure.