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Over 1 million students will be affected by university pensions strikes

20 February 2018

A month of strikes due to hit 65 universities* will begin on Thursday (22 February) after the universities' representatives refused to return to negotiations with the University and College Union (UCU).

The union says the action will affect over 1 million students and see 575,000 teaching hours lost. The strike days are:

Week one - Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February (two days)

Week two - Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)

Week three - Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)

Week four - Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

The union said it will meet on Friday 2 March to consider universities' response to the first wave of strikes and what further action might be necessary. UCU said it hoped no universities would want a prolonged dispute that drags out towards exam season, but that members were determined to fight for fair pensions.

As well as picket lines outside entrances to universities affected by the action from 8am on Thursday, there will be a series of events over the next four weeks including rallies on Thursday in Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Oxford. Sally Hunt will be speaking at a rally outside Goldsmiths Library on Dixon Road in London at 11am.

UCU members are walking out over plans to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.

The universities' representatives - Universities UK - are seeking to push through the changes and have refused to negotiate with UCU. The union says this has left it with no alternative but to strike. In the recent strike ballot UCU members overwhelmingly backed industrial action. Overall, 88% of members who voted backed strike action. The turnout was 58%.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'We deliberately announced these strike dates to give universities time to come back round the table with us and get this mess sorted out. They have refused to do so and want to impose their reforms on staff. Unsurprisingly staff are angry and significant disruption on campuses across the UK now looks inevitable.

'The key is how universities react to the action this week. We will be meeting on 2 March to consider what wave two of the action may need to involve and nothing is off the table. We doubt any universities want a prolonged dispute that carries on towards exam season and would urge vice-chancellors to put pressure on Universities UK to get back round the table with us.'

* Universities affected by strike action from Thursday 22 February (week one):

Aberdeen, University of

Aberystwyth University

Aston University

Bangor University

Bath, University of

Birkbeck College, University of London

Bristol, University of

Brunel University

Cambridge, University of

Cardiff University

City, University of London

Courtauld Institute of Art

Cranfield University

Dundee, University of

Durham University

East Anglia, University of

Essex, University of

Exeter, University of

Glasgow, University of

Goldsmiths, University of London

Heriot-Watt University

Hull, University of

Imperial College London

Institute of Education

Keele University

Kent, University of

Lancaster, University of

Leeds, University of

Leicester, University of

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Liverpool, University of

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Loughborough University

Manchester, University of

Newcastle University

Nottingham, University of

Open University

Oxford, University of

Queen's University Belfast

Reading, University of

Royal Holloway, University of London

Royal Veterinary College, University of London

Salford, University of

Senate House, University of London

Sheffield, University of

SOAS, University of London

Southampton, University of

St Andrews, University of

Strathclyde, University of

Surrey, University of

Sussex, University of

University College London

Scottish Association for Marine Science at the University of the Highlands and Islands

Ulster University

University of Wales

University of Warwick

University of York

Universities that will join in week two:

King's College London
Queen Mary University of London
University of Edinburgh
University of Stirling

Universities that will join in week three:

Ruskin College
University of Bradford
St George's, University of London

Institute of Development Studies

Last updated: 12 March 2018