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Staff at Sheffield International College vote for strike action over pay and working conditions

10 March 2022

Staff at the University of Sheffield International College (USIC), which is run by the private company Study Group, have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action following the refusal of employers to increase staff pay or holiday allowance.

The result saw 79% of UCU members votes yes in a ballot with a turnout of 86%. Strike action could now start as soon as 29 March. 

The college is owned and operated by Study Group but is closely connected to the University of Sheffield. Study Group uses University of Sheffield branding, and provides preparation courses for overseas students who want to go on and study at the university. Students from all over the world enroll to improve their English, study skills and subject specialism in readiness for their degrees. Courses at USIC can cost up to £22k per year per student.  

The dispute is a result of Study Group not making any cost of living pay offer for 2021 and refusing to equalise holiday allowance to 30 days for all staff. The union asked for a 4% pay rise for staff and an increase of five days holiday for the student experience team. This will bring staff holiday entitlements in line across the college. Despite extensive negotiations Study Group has failed to make any offer to settle the dispute.  

UCU regional official Julie Kelley said: 'This overwhelming vote for industrial action shows the strength of feeling staff have about these issues.  It is beyond disappointing that Study Group has so far not made an offer to their staff to increase pay or make modest improvements to holiday arrangements. Further negotiations have just started and the employer understands what it needs to do if disruptive strike action is to be avoided. Our demands are not unreasonable and the hard-working staff employed by University of Sheffield International College deserve better. Instead of pushing their own workforce towards taking industrial action, Study Group needs to work with us to resolve this dispute.' 

Last updated: 10 March 2022