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Solid support for strikes as students call on university heads to do more to solve disputes

20 February 2020

Support for the biggest ever wave of strikes on university campuses is solid as UCU members at 74 universities begin 14 days of strikes.

Striking staff were given a boost this morning as the National Union of Students (NUS) said it backed the walkouts and called on university leaders to work harder to resolve the disputes.

UCU said the support from staff and students was despite efforts from universities this week to disrupt the action, confuse the issues and, in some cases, even bribe their staff to cancel protests. The University of Leicester told staff that it would spread the deductions of 14 days' lost pay for the strikes over three months if staff promised not to protest on campus.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'We have been receiving news of solid support for the strikes across the UK. That support sends a clear message to universities that, instead of focusing on silly games and spinning in the run up the walkouts, they should have been working with us to try and sort things out.

'We have been clear that we are always ready to seriously discuss all the issues at the heart of the disputes. Students are understandably unimpressed at the intransigence of their university leaders and have made clear demands today that vice-chancellors and principals work harder to try and resolve the disputes.'

The disputes centre on the sustainability of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and rising costs for members, and on universities' failure to make significant improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

Universities UK (UUK - the universities' representatives in the pensions dispute) spent the last week running a consultation on a new offer to make to the union. On Tuesday it declared it was not going to make a new offer.

Meanwhile, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (Ucea - the universities' representatives in the pay and conditions dispute) said again earlier this week that it would still not talk to the union about the crucial pay element of the dispute.

As well taking to the picket lines, many strikers will be delivering "teach-out" lectures and holding rallies around the country. MPs have been sending messages of support and joining picket lines. A Labour leadership hustings organised by the Guardian in Manchester on Tuesday has been moved from a university venue to Manchester Central because of the strikes. All the latest information is available on the union's wall of action and via Twitter.

The number of universities being hit by the action is the largest since a nationwide two-day strike in 2016, while the number of strike days is unprecedented. Following the eight-day walkout before Christmas, this latest round of 14 strike days means the total number of walkouts will be 22 by March; higher than the previous record of 14 days in 2018.

There are some variations on dates to accommodate things like reading weeks. Eighteen of the 74 branches are tweaking the dates they are on strike. A full list of who is out and when can be found here.

Universities affected by strike action from Thursday 20 February

Both disputes (47):

1.   Aston University

2.   Bangor University

3.   Cardiff University

4.   University of Durham

5.   Heriot-Watt University

6.   Loughborough University

7.   Newcastle University

8.   Open University

9.   University of Bath

10. University of Dundee

11. University of Leeds

12. University of Manchester

13. University of Sheffield

14. University of Nottingham

15. University of Stirling

16. University College London

17. University of Birmingham

18. University of Bradford

19. University of Bristol

20. University of Cambridge

21. University of Edinburgh

22. University of Exeter

23. University of Essex

24. University of Glasgow

25. University of Lancaster

26. University of Leicester

27. City University

28. Goldsmiths College

29. Queen Mary University of London

30. Royal Holloway

31. University of Reading

32. University of Southampton

33. University of St Andrews

34. Courtauld Institute of Art

35. University of Strathclyde

36. University of Wales

37. University of Warwick

38. University of York

39. University of Liverpool

40. University of Sussex

41. University of Aberdeen

42. University of Ulster

43. Queen's University Belfast

44. Birkbeck College, University of London

45. SOAS, University of London

46. University of Oxford

47. University of East Anglia


Pay and conditions dispute only (22):

1.     Bishop Grosseteste University

2.     Bournemouth University

3.     Edge Hill University

4.     Glasgow Caledonian University

5.     Glasgow School of Art

6.     Liverpool Hope University

7.     Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts

8.     Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

9.     St Mary's University College, Belfast

10.   Roehampton University

11.   Sheffield Hallam University

12.   University of Brighton

13.   University of Kent

14.   Bath Spa University

15.   Royal College of Art

16.   University of Huddersfield

17.   University of Winchester

18.   University of East London

19.   Leeds Trinity University

20.   UAL University of the Arts London

21.   De Montfort University

22.   University of Greenwich


USS pensions dispute only (5):

1.    Scottish Association of Marine Science

2.    Institute for Development Studies

3.    Keele University

4.    King's College London

5.    Imperial College London

Last updated: 20 February 2020