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Institutions closed and hundreds of classes cancelled by industrial action in colleges and universities

3 December 2013 | last updated: 10 December 2015

UCU said today that strikes by staff in colleges and universities had seen some institutions closed, key learning facilities shut, hundreds of classes cancelled, and even a celebrity pull out of a planned engagement.

The University of the West of Scotland is closed and all but two sites at the City of Liverpool College are shut as a result of the action. Early reports from union members, who have turned out in their thousands on picket lines across the country, have confirmed key facilities such as laboratories and libraries have been closed, while hundreds of classes, lectures and seminars have been cancelled.

Model, Cambridge University graduate and now social entrepreneur, Lily Cole, pulled out of a speaking engagement today at London's Central St Martins College of Art and Design, as a result of the action. Deliveries too were disrupted.  At the University of Sussex, a large boat being delivered to campus turned around rather than cross the picket line.

Staff in universities were offered a 1% pay rise this year, despite their pay plummeting by 13% in real terms in last four years. They took action on 31 October and then members of UCU, Unite, Unison and the EIS trade unions walked out for a second time today.

They were joined today by lecturers in further education colleges in England who rejected a pay offer of just 0.7% from their national employers. They have seen their pay cut by 15% in real terms since 2009.

UCU's negotiators for both college and university lecturers met with both college and university employers to try and resolve the dispute before today's strike but no better pay offer was made for either group of staff.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The strength of support for this action by staff has meant it has not been business as usual at many of our colleges and universities. Staff have reached rock bottom with massive pay cuts over a long period yet they see their institutions ploughing money into new buildings and giving those at the top six-figure salaries. 

'What we are asking for is a modest and affordable pay rise to reward those who are the backbone of our post-16 education system and who have made it the success story it is today.'