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 eight days of strike action from Monday 25 November to Wednesday 4 December.
What is the background to this strike?
The strike relates to two ongoing disputes between UCU and university employers, represented by Universities UK (UUK), about pensions, pay and working conditions.
What is NUSU doing/What is NUSU’s role in this?
You, the students of Newcastle University, are always our first priority. We believe that taking a neutral stance on any potential future strike action is the best way for us to fully support you. 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, NUSU believes 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 hard to avoid or limit any factors which might impact negatively on your studies.
How would NUSU support students during any potential strikes?
During the 2017/18 strike action, we supported students in several ways:
- We promoted information about the strike via our website social media. This included the background to the strikes, how students supportive of the strikes could get involved, and FAQs from the University about measures being taken to mitigate the negative impact on students.
- NUSU Course Reps and School Reps collected detailed feedback on the specific impact of the strikes within their degree programmes and fed this back to us. We then collated this information and passed it onto Heads of Schools, Faculty managers and the central University.
- Our President and Education Officers for 2017/18 met with the University Registrar and other key senior staff and gained assurances that students would not be assessed on the material which was not delivered due to strikes.
- Our Student Advice Centre (SAC) informed students about strike impact PEC forms and other practicalities. The SAC also contributed to the University’s Student Protection Plan to highlight your consumer rights, including the fact that the protection not only applies to the academic outcome but also learning opportunities. The SAC can offer academic and consumer rights advice via individual appointments.
We would look to provide all of this support again during the upcoming strikes.
What did NUSU achieve for students as a result of the most recent strikes?
The University consulted us about how we thought they should best use the pay withheld during the recent strikes to benefit students. We put forward the following proposals, all of which were implemented or are in the process of being 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 the issues that may hinder this.