During this time of action, please ensure you note down how you've been impacted and please fill in an Industrial Action Impact Form.
The University and College Union (UCU) – the trade union that represents lecturers, researchers and other university staff such as librarians and administrators – has voted in favour of strike action.
There will be fourteen days of strike action from Thursday 20 February to Friday 13 March.
What is the background?
The strike relates to ongoing disputes between UCU and university employers, represented by Universities UK (UUK), about pensions, pay and working conditions. Discussions are ongoing between UCU, Universities UK and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), with the hope that a resolution can be found.
What is NUSU doing/What is NUSU’s role in this?
Students are always our first priority, and we are here to represent all of you. Therefore, at this moment, as a Sabbatical Officer team, we believe that taking a neutral is the best way for us to support you. This is because we encourage students to form their own opinions, as we are aware that there are students who support lecturers in their action and those who do not. As a result, we believe that taking a side would not stay true to our duty of representing the diverse student body as best we can.
As your elected Sabbatical Officers, it is also our duty to ensure that your academic interests are always taken into account, and this includes working to mitigate any impact on your studies.
How did NUSU support students during the last strikes?
- All our social media was up-to-date to ensure all students have the latest information.
- NUSU Course Reps and School Reps collected detailed feedback on the impact of the strikes within their degree programmes and we fed this back to heads of the different schools across the University.
- We met with key University staff members to ensure that assessment adjustments were made for material not covered during action.
- Our Student Advice Centre (SAC) informed students about strike impact PEC forms and consumer rights.
We will provide this support again for the upcoming strikes.
What did NUSU achieve for students as a result of the 2017/18 strikes?
We put forward the following proposals to the University, all of which were implemented:
- 50% off food and drinks for all students at key campus outlets, during the exam revision period.
- Free gown hire for all students at affected campuses graduating in July and December 2018 congregations.
- Extra funding for mental health and counselling services to support all students.
- Additional funding provided to NUSU for the refurbishment of some areas in the Students’ Union Building and replacement of equipment, which will be of benefit to all students using the services.
What happens next?
We appreciate that there is a wide range of views among the student body regarding strike action. While we as a Sabbatical Officer team will maintain a neutral collective stance, we will also ensure that NUSU provides accurate, useful information that will allow you to draw your own individual conclusions. As Sabbs, we encourage students to speak to us about their views on the strikes and how they may be affected. Feedback is always crucial because we’re here to support you and make your experience the best it can be by devoting our time to these issues.
If you have any Uni related questions please send these across to the Academic Registrar using this link.
Also you can refer to the FAQs that are available on the Industrial Action webpages.
A message from your President, Katie Smyth:
As we are halfway through the current strike action I think it’s important to explain the Sabbatical Officer stance during this time in an attempt to eliminate any confusion. Your Sabbatical Officer Team is voted for, annually, by the student body, and we represent students in all we do, especially during difficult times. During the last round of strike action in 2017 it was decided upon by the then Sabbatical Officer team to take a neutral stance. After serious discussion we decided, as a team, to take the same stance. We felt then and still do, that it is the only way we can represent the opinions of all the students’ we represent, including those for or against industrial action and those who have a neutral view.
However as a Students’ Union this stance can be changed if the Sabbatical Officer Team are mandated by our Student Council to do so. In our December Council the motion ‘Support Lecturers on Strike’ failed to reach the simple majority it needed to pass. As we are led by the student body, we remained neutral.
To this year’s team neutrality means providing all information to our students, which includes directing them to University communications relating to PEC forms, Industrial Action Impact forms and extra counselling sessions. We also direct students to our internal Student Advice Centre for extra support and ourselves as their student representatives. We attend meetings to discuss the impact this is having and have an ‘open door’ policy for students to come and speak to us. Being neutral does not mean we don’t care, we don’t want to see lecturers on strike and students under pressure and we genuinely hope for a positive outcome for all.
In relation to the Strike Action Q&A that sparked particular controversy, the decision to participate was decided upon by the whole Sabbatical Officer team due to the success of it during the last round of industrial action. This was an opportunity for students to directly ask their institution procedural and administrative questions on process, largely around PEC forms, compensation and Industrial Action impact forms. As NUSU President the majority of strike related emails I receive from students fits within this procedural context and therefore we genuinely wanted to offer a platform to get the answers. This was a fact giving session, and we believe that the correct Union was there to represent the student body, the Students’ Union. I completely agree that had this been a wider discussion on the industrial action it would have been appropriate for a representative to attend, and I’m sorry for the evident confusion this has caused. However, we stand by our decision to be present at the session and to fulfil our role of representing students.
My twitter feed will remain to be used as a public space for information only, and not as a platform for back and forth with members of the University community. Please be mindful of the way social media is used and let us all remain respectful of each other and our different approach to a difficult situation. I sincerely hope all students feel that they can come in and talk to me (or any of the team) at any point or contact us on any of our email- everyone’s welcome.