Next wave of strikes announced in UCU's pay row with universities

10 June 2016 | last updated: 21 June 2016
  • Next wave of industrial action kicks off with first strike at Winchester University open day
  • Eight strikes in eight days from Scotland to the south to hit open days and other university events, with more to follow in coming weeks

Eight UK universities will be hit with strike action in the next eight days as UCU escalates its industrial action in a row with universities over pay.

Staff at the University of Winchester will lead the wave of nationwide strikes when they walk out in a row over pay today to coincide with an open day for potential students and their parents.

UCU members at the Winchester will be the first to take part in strike action aimed at disrupting open days and other university events. Staff at seven other institutions will walk out next week after union members voted to escalate their action last week. All other UK universities are finalising their strike plans and the union expects to unveil the full programme of summer disruption shortly.

The institutions to be hit this week are:

Tuesday 14 June

University of Edinburgh

University of Kent 

Wednesday 15 June

University of Sussex

Thursday 16 June

University of Glasgow

University of the West of Scotland

Friday 17 June

University of Bath

University of Bristol

The dispute has arisen following a pay offer of just 1.1% from the universities' employers, UCEA. UCU said universities could afford to pay more and the latest offer did little to address the real terms pay cut of 14.5% that its members have suffered since 2009. The squeeze on staff salaries comes despite vice-chancellors enjoying a 6.1% pay hike.

The union has also called for universities to commit to closing the gender pay gap and reducing the proportion of staff on casual and zero-hour contracts. On average, female academics across the sector are paid £6,103 per year less than male counterparts while 49% of university teachers are on insecure contracts.

Since 2010 the amount spent on staff by universities as a percentage of total income has dropped by 3%. However the total of cash in reserves has rocketed by 72% to over £21bn.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Members have been left with no alternative but to escalate their industrial action after universities refused to come back to the negotiating table with a fair offer. Targeted disruptions will be taking place across the UK until the employers recognise the anger staff feel at having their pay held down, while a few at the top continue to be handsomely rewarded.'

As well as walking out last month, UCU members have started working to contract, which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work, or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.

The union has also called on external examiners to resign their positions on exam boards; a move which threatens to disrupt marking this summer when boards meet to discuss challenged marks. External examiners are a crucial part of quality assurance in universities, as each course requires an external examiner to ensure that an institution's assessment is fair and comparable with others.

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