Strike action: information for students

This page is reviewed daily.

Find the latest information on industrial 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.

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 in November 2022.

In March 2023, the UCU re-balloted its members and were granted an extension of its mandate to take industrial action until September 2023. This included a marking and assessment boycott, which began in April 2023. On Wednesday, 6 September 2023, national UCU announced an early end to the ongoing marking and assessment boycott, to take effect immediately. 

Upcoming strike days

Unfortunately, national UCU will be taking further industrial action, in the form of five days of strike action, in relation to ongoing national disputes about pay and working conditions.

除了全国性罢工, executives for the local branch of UCU (UMUCU) have informed us of an additional four days of strike action, which is a response to the university’s local pay withholding position with the marking and assessment boycott.

The total of nine days of planned action is due to take place:

  • From Tuesday, 19 to Friday, 22 September
  • From Monday, 25 to Friday, 29 September

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.

Will the strikes impact Welcome?

Although this covers the Welcome period, we anticipate little change to the programme of events and activity we have planned. Not all University staff members are members of the UCU, and not all members will participate in strike action. We expect that the impact of this action will vary across the University and in most areas be limited. 

Where can I find support?

We recognise that this is a challenging time. If you have any queries or concerns, 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 want to thank you for your continued hard work and patience.

Strike action FAQs for students

If you have any specific questions, 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 some 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

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.

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?

Formal progress reviews

Processes have been put in place to minimise disruption to the formal review process during the current marking and assessment boycott. In the unlikely event that a formal progress review cannot take place due to industrial action, postgraduate researchers will be permitted to progress to their next year of study and the review will take place as soon as possible.

Viva examinations

Processes have been put in place to minimise disruption to viva examinations during the current marking and assessment boycott. In the unlikely event that a viva examination cannot take place due to industrial action, the viva will be rescheduled for a later date.

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.