Why are the unions taking action?
Salaries for the lecturers, researchers and administrators who
educate, develop and look after the 2.3 million students in UK
higher education have stagnated. The prime minister himself has
said that they have shown 'practically no increase in real
terms over two decades.' AUT and NATFHE have asked the university
employers to improve salaries so that they compare to those of
other public sector professionals. Members in both unions agreed
to take action by overwhelming majorities.
Do the employers have the money?
Between now and 2008, UK universities will receive an extra
£3.4billion in funding. This amounts to a 25% increase.
Universities promised the government when top-up fees and the
other extra funding was announced that 'in general at least
a third of that money will be put back into the salaries and conditions
of their staff.' Unfortunately although the unions made
a claim asking the employers to keep this promise in October 2005,
the universities have not yet made an offer to increase pay.
What kind of industrial action are the
The industrial action will begin with a one day strike, and
will then be followed by action short of a strike. Amongst other
things like refusing to provide cover for absent colleagues, this
will include an ongoing boycott of student assessment.
How will the industrial action affect
The action will affect every student at universities and higher
education colleges where there are AUT and/or NATFHE members –
this is the vast majority. The action includes a boycott of all
student assessment and this means that papers, essays and projects
will not be marked. If the dispute continues examinations and
ultimately graduations are at risk.
Do the unions want to negotiate?
AUT and NATFHE have been trying to agree a pay increase with
the employers since October 2005. We remain optimistic that industrial
action can be avoided if the employers agree to serious unconditional
talks. As things stand, with no talks arranged, action that affects
students is looking increasingly likely.
Where can I go if I am worried about
the impact of the action?
If you are a student you can speak to your head of department.
You could also contact your local Students' Union and/or the university
counselling and advice services. For more information on what
students are doing to support the unions you can visit the National
Union of Students (NUS) website www.nusonline.co.uk.
NUS are supporting the unions' actions, as they recognise that
their members do not want to be taught by underpaid and de-motivated
I am in my final year. Does this mean
I won't graduate?
If the dispute continues, students' graduations will be affected
by the action. We are worried that the employers, in refusing
to negotiate seriously, are seeking to gamble with students' education.
I am a concerned parent, or family member.
What can I do?
Many parents and other family members make huge personal and
financial sacrifices to support their children through university.
If you are worried about how a protracted dispute may affect your
child's future employment or study prospects then you should
contact their head of college now to encourage them to re-enter
serious negotiations with the unions. For more information on
the campaign please go to: www.aut.org.uk/paybacktime
If you wish to contact us directly, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Nobody in AUT or NATFHE wants to harm the prospects of students.
Please help us get this dispute settled. Contact your University
or college today to ask them to begin serious negotiations with