Members working in further education in England have been getting a raw deal from their employers for too long.

A new approach to collective bargaining in English further education  sector

UCU is now approaching collective bargaining in further education in England in a new way. Read why the new approach is necessary, what it offers and how you can get involved: National Plus in FE

FE pay in England

In England the vast majority of colleges are members of the Association of Colleges (AoC), an employers' organisation which negotiates with UCU and other recognised trade unions (UNISON, ATL, AMiE, UNITE and GMB) in the National Joint Forum (NJF) to produce recommendations on pay and conditions for individual colleges to adopt.

Pay headlines

Strike announced at Nottingham College

Staff at Nottingham College have voted to strike as part of a row over the college's plans to impose new contracts which would leave over 80 staff more than £1,000 worse off, despite not receiving a pay rise since 2010, and would see staff lose up to eight days' holiday and cuts to sick pay: July strike date announced at Nottingham College in contracts row

Annual congress backs FE motions

Delegates at UCU's annual congress passed a number of resolutions relating to pay in FE, including congratulating those branches that have secured ground breaking pay and conditions deals off the back of ballots and action: FE sector conference

Joint union claim submitted

The joint trade unions have submitted a pay claim for the 2019/20 academic year to the employers' representatives the Association of Colleges (AoC). The claim asks for:

  • £1 extra per hour for all staff with Foundation Living wage being the minimum wage in FE.
  • An additional 5 days of annual leave per year.

Trade unions and AoC representatives will commence this year's pay talks at a meeting of the National Joint Forum on 10 June 2019.

Joint union letter to AoC on the pay claim for 2019-20 [455kb]

West Thames College strikes to go ahead

Staff at West Thames College will walk out for another two days on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 May after the college failed to make an improved pay offer: More strikes at West Thames College after college fails to improve deal

Improved deal sees further strikes called off at Lambeth College

The deal is worth over 3% in pay with additional holiday days, sick pay benefits and a reduction in teaching hours: Strikes off at Lambeth College as deal reached on pay and conditions

West Thames College strikes go ahead

Members at West Thames College will be on strike on 7 and 8 May after talks over pay broke down at the end of last week: Strikes on at West Thames College this week

Figures reveal falling pay in colleges

Pay in further education has dropped, according to data released by the Education and Training Foundation, with a 'decrease in median teacher pay across all providers' from £31,800 in 2016-17 to £31,600 in 2017-18. UCU said the figures lifted the lid on state of pay and conditions in colleges and warned that colleges needed to engage with the union if they wanted to avoid strikes: UCU warns of further disruption as figures reveal falling pay in colleges

More strikes and new ballots at London colleges

Members at Lambeth College (29 April - 1 May) and New City College (30 April-2 May) will be on strike this week as industrial action ballots open at Croydon College and the Hackney campus of New City College in the fight for better pay and conditions: Further strikes and ballots at London colleges this week

West Midlands colleges to see further action

Strike action will hit Coventry College, City of Wolverhampton College and the Warwickshire College Group during the week beginning 8 April in their ongoing pay disputes:

UCU members will walk out on the following days:

  • City of Wolverhampton College - Monday 8, Tuesday 9 and Wednesday 10 April
  • Warwickshire College Group - Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 April
  • Coventry College - Tuesday 9, Wednesday 10 April and Thursday 11 April

There is particular frustration among City of Wolverhampton College members after the employers  refused an offer from UCU to meet through arbitration experts Acas to try and avoid strike action following suspension of planned action in March.

Strikes to hit three West Midlands colleges in pay row

Five colleges till out as progress sees some action suspended

Strikes still on at five colleges - West Thames College, South Bank College, Croydon College, Bradford College and Harlow College - while progress in talks sees action suspended at Bath, Petroc, and City of Wolverhampton colleges.

The dispute at Bridgwater & Taunton is now over after members voted to accept a deal that includes the end of graded lesson observations and a 2% pay rise over nine months (1% in April 2019 and another 1% in January 2020). Lower paid members will receive a 5% increase in April 2019.

Branches preparing for further strike action

Ten colleges are preparing for a fresh round of strike action on 20, 21 and 22 March: Bath College, Bradford College, Bridgewater and Taunton College, City of Wolverhampton College, Croydon College, Harlow College, South Bank College (Lambeth previously) and Petroc, with West Thames College members walking out on 18, 19 and 20 March.

Action at Abingdon and Whitney has been suspended due to progress in talks. New College Swindon members backed a deal on the eve of further action.

Ballots open at further colleges

Strikes at more colleges could be the cards as ballots held:

MP pledges full support as prime minister questioned over FE policy

Seema Malhotra, the MP for Feltham and Heston, said a pay rise is long overdue as she gives full support to West Thames College strikers. Meanwhile, after prime minister's questions UCU has said Theresa May's claim to respect further education does not stand up to scrutiny  and will ring hollow with the hundreds of UCU members out on strike over pay this week.

Another MP gives a strike day boost

Boost for Leicester College strikers as local MP offers full support

Three colleges see action suspended

Members at 13 colleges are preparing for action as action is suspended at Hugh Baird College and New College Swindon after  deals are agreed, and also at Coventry College to allow talks to continue:

MPs support strikers

Members at Abingdon and Witney College, City of Wolverhampton College and West Thames College have been given a boost ahead of their two-day walkout over pay after local MPs gave their support. Meanwhile strikes at New College Swindon were confirmed after talks between UCU and the college broke down.

January strike dates confirmed

UCU members at 16 English colleges are being called to take strike action for two days starting on Tuesday 29 January: ​Strike dates announced at 15 English colleges in pay row

New strike dates proposed

UCU's further education committee (FEC) officers have recommended 29 and 30 January, and 20, 21 and 22 March as the next strike days so please look out for confirmation over the next week.

Ten more colleges to join the action

UCU members at ten colleges have voted for industrial action and can join colleagues at six colleges who took action in November in the next wave of strikes. UCU's officers will meet as soon as possible to discuss plans for further strikes in the dispute which centres on the failure of college bosses to make a decent pay offer to staff who have seen their pay decline by 25% over the last decade: New year strike threat at 16 English colleges in row over pay

What are you worth?

Last week the Association of Colleges made an offer of 1% on behalf of employers - an insult which does not come close to recognising the work you do and which would widen the gap between your pay and schoolteachers rather than close it: Is a 1% pay rise all you're worth?

Wholly inadequate

A 'wholly inadequate response' is UCU's description of the pay offer of just 1% from the Association of Colleges (AoC) made against the backdrop of the pay crisis in further education which has left teaching staff being paid £7,000 a year less than school teachers:

Supporting striking branches

We ask all members to support the six colleges taking action on the 28 and 29 November and if possible visit the pickets and let them know they have your support:

Why we're taking action

Bradford College UCU branch secretary, Geraint Evans, on the reasons as to why his members are being forced to take industrial action:

First wave of strike action confirmed

UCU members at six English colleges will be taking strike action on Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 November as the first wave of industrial action begins in the fight for fairer pay

As members walk out at the six striking colleges - Bath College, Bradford College, Croydon College, Lambeth College, New College Swindon and Petroc - ballots at 26 more institutions* will open. Those ballots close on Wednesday 19 December.

First wave of strikes in English colleges to begin on 28 November

Strike dates announced

UCU has written to six FE colleges to inform them that UCU members will be taking strike action for two days from 28 November, the same day that fresh ballots will open in many other colleges across the country.

UCU will provide full support to members in the six colleges (New College Swindon, Bath, Petroc, Bradford, Lambeth and Croydon Colleges) taking this first wave of strike action with hardship payments of up to £75 for each day of strike action taken.

Strike action and reballots

UCU's further education officers met this week to discuss last week's ballot results and have recommended that branches that achieved at least a 50% turnout (Bath, Bradford, Croydon, Lambeth, New College Swindon, and Petroc College) should take two days strike action on 28 and 29 November; branches that came close (35% and above) should be re-balloted from 28 November to 19 December; and branches whose turnout was below 35% should hold members' meetings to decide whether to re-ballot. 

The campaign for a better deal for FE continues. Vice-chair of the further education committee (FEC), Sean Vernell, writes here in TES on why the fight for fair pay is also a fight for the well-being of students. UCU is also asking members in English colleges to take a few minutes to write to your MP asking them to support fair funding - especially after the Westminster budget produced so little.

Ballot results announced

The results of the ballot are now available here.

Despite the enormous efforts made by branches and UCU staff very few institutions achieved the 50% turnout required by the law before industrial action is possible.

Matt Waddup, UCU national head of policy and campaigns, said 'It is very frustrating that while overall the turnout is the highest we have seen in UCU for a national pay ballot in this sector, this is not enough to take action in the vast majority of institutions.

'While we all know the law is unfair, we also know that without a high turnout we cannot turn the anger about the treatment of staff into tangible action so I would like to thank those of you who voted and who worked to increase the turnout for your support.'

The results will now be considered by UCU's Further Education Committee.

Until such time as advised please note that our current dispute remains on.

'Further education is fighting for its life'

As funding pressures increase, colleges must support their greatest asset - their staff, argues UCU's Matt Waddup in the Tes magazine

Don't just tell staff cupboard is bare

Low pay is at the heart of the sector's problems with recruitment and retention, argues Sally Hunt in the TES magazine, as union members are balloted over strike action.

Pay ballot opens

Members in affected branches should expect to receive strike ballot papers over the next few days.

To ensure the 50% threshold is reached members are urged to post their ballots back as soon as possible.

Strike ballots over pay open in colleges and universities

Employers notified of ballot

The statutory notice of intention to ballot has now been served on employers in respect of the 2018/19 pay dispute. The ballot will open on 30 August and close on 19 October 2018. Members in those branches included should look out for their ballot paper in the post from 1 September onwards.

The employers' body fails to provide a concrete pay offer at talks prompting Autumn strike warnings: Autumn strike warnings as UCU says further education staff need decent pay offer

Government warned over shoddy deals

UCU has written to skills and apprenticeships minister Anne Milton saying staff will not put up with another shoddy pay deal and that the government must release funding to improve pay for staff working in further education: UCU writes to government calling for funding to support pay deal

AoC head targetted

UCU members in FE England have been asked to help the FE fights back campaign by writing to the AoC chief executive officer, David Hughes, ahead of pay talks with the joint trade unions on 13 July. Members are encouraged to use or amend this model email text [1kb] and email ahead of the talks.

Pay claim submitted

The joint unions have submitted a pay claim of 5% for the 2018/19 academic year to the employers' representatives the Association of Colleges (AoC). The claim asks for a guaranteed minimum increase of £1,500 for the lowest paid staff where a 5% rise is lower than £1,500, and a living wage of £8.75 (£10.20 in London) to become accredited living wage employers: Unions submit 5% pay claim ahead of July pay talks

Joint unions FE England claim 2018-19 [225kb]

AoC backtracks on pay talks decision

UCU has welcomed a U-turn from the Association of Colleges (AoC) over pay talks for staff in further education. At the start of the month AoC said that it would not discuss a pay claim for 2018/19 while UCU members were still in dispute at some colleges as a result of action taken following the outcome of the 2017-18 pay round.

*List of colleges with UCU branches involved in the November 2018 reballot (correct at 29 November 2018):
 Abingdon & Witney College 
Barnsley College
Bournville College of FE
Bridgwater and Taunton College
City College Plymouth
City Lit Inst
City of Bristol College
City of Wolverhampton College
Coventry College (City Campus)
Coventry College (Henley Campus)
East Riding College
East Sussex College Group (Hastings)
East Sussex College Group (SDC)
Harlow College
Havering College of FHE
Hugh Baird College
Kendal College
Leicester College
Morley College
Richmond Upon Thames College
South & City College Birmingham
South Thames College - Carshalton College
South Thames College - Kingston College
South Thames College - Merton College Branch
South Thames College - Wandsworth & Tooting
Strode College
Truro and Penwith College/Penwith
Truro and Penwith College/Truro
West Thames College
Wiltshire College

National Plus in FE

Looking at UCU's strategy for better bargaining in English further education.

FE England: 2017-18 pay round

Information on the 2017-18 national pay round for English colleges.

FE England: 2016-17 pay round

Information on the 2016-17 pay round for English colleges.

FE England: 2015-16 pay round

Information on the 2015-16 pay round for English colleges.

FE England: 2014-15 pay round

Information on the 2014-15 pay round for English colleges.

FE England: 2013-14 pay round

Information on the 2013-14 pay round for English colleges.