Industrial Action by the University and College Union (UCU) in February and March 2018

This provides you with further information about the national strike action which took place in February and March and the steps the University is taking to minimise its impact.

We were one of 64 universities whose members of the national UCU (the University and College Union) voted in support of strike action. At the University, approximately 7.5% of all staff voted in favour of industrial action. 

We understand the uncertainty this action may have caused and would like to reassure you that we have detailed plans in place to minimise the impact of the action and are doing all we can to ensure your academic outcomes are not affected.

Could this affect your assessments and degree outcomes?

We will ensure that any disruption caused by the strike is carefully accounted for when evaluating student performance on modules and degree programmes. We have rich data which provides us with an empirical basis on which to measure and correct any impact of the strike action on teaching and learning. By carefully considering the effects of the disruption on module marks, we will ensure that the final marks that contribute to your progression and degree award are fair and equitable. Naturally, normal appeal processes will apply.

The strike action did not include a boycott of marking or assessment. Where examinations, assessments or vivas coincided with strike action they are being rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.

Further information

We have drawn up a Frequently Asked Questions page for you so we can answer any further queries that you might have. Further information on the Students’ Guild position can be read online. Information on the FXU's position can be found here

We are committed to doing all that we can to ensure that the impact on your experience and academic outcomes is minimised by this industrial action. 

We appreciate the industrial action caused uncertainty and would like to highlight the resources that are available to support you. This includes our self-help tool, SilverCloud and our Wellbeing Services at both the Exeter and Cornwall campuses. We have put additional resource into these services to accommodate any increase in demand.

If you have any questions or concerns about the industrial action please contact our dedicated email address for students: industrialaction@exeter.ac.uk.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the industrial action which took place in February and March. 

Exeter was among 61 universities where members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) voted in required numbers in support of strike action or action short of a strike, over proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), a national pension scheme.

It has been our priority to minimise any disruption to students and staff. A mitigation group continues to work with Colleges and Services, alongside representatives of the Students’ Guild and the Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union (FXU) to identify how we can minimise any disruption. For example, where teaching activity was cancelled the University asked academic colleagues to replace the teaching content by another means (digital, ELE, recap recording, reading materials etc) by the end of term 2.

We will continue to keep colleagues and students informed via email and staff and student newsletters during Term 3.

We asked colleagues to ensure that missed teaching content is provided to you in an alternative format by the end of Term 2 – this could include the content being provided digitally, via ELE, via a Recap recording, or by providing you with additional reading materials. Some colleagues have also decided to reschedule their missed teaching.  Your module leader will be responsible for ensuring that the missed content is provided to you. 

The planned industrial action did not include a boycott of marking or assessment. Examinations, in-class assessments, oral examinations or PhD vivas which coincided with strike action days, were being rescheduled at the earliest opportunity and we will ensure that you are provided with sufficient notice about when the assessment will take place.

The May 2018 examination papers are currently being prepared and finalised. We will review all examination papers before the exams start in May to ensure that all topics that are assessed have been adequately and appropriately covered before you sit the exam. Examination papers will be revised if necessary.

All examination timetables were released on Wednesday 21 March via our usual process.

Where teaching activity was cancelled the University asked academic colleagues to replace the teaching content by another means (digital, ELE, recap recording, reading materials etc.) by the end of term 2.

You can be assured that all alternative provision provided to students on every module is being comprehensively logged and will be considered at each of the Academic Progression and Award Committees (APACs), alongside the marks for the module. This is part of the work to protect graduate outcomes for all students, with the APACs evaluating the impact and effectiveness of all mitigation provided to ensure fair and equitable outcomes for all students.

The APACs are enabled to adjust/scale marks for the cohort on the module, according to data that exists for previous years – ensuring that the impact of any disruption to teaching/assessments is accounted for.

We have asked academic colleagues to take account of individual learning plans (ILPs) when providing alternative content, but if you have any concerns about how your ILP is being supported please contact your personal tutor or the Associate Dean for Education within your college. For general advice and further information please go to the student welfare website where there is a section on ILPs: www.exeter.ac.uk/wellbeing/studentwelfare/

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Yes. There are recognised and long standing procedures at the University in relation to assessment, marking, progression to the following year and awarding of degree classification that will be enforced; this will not stop students being able to graduate or continue to the next year of their studies.

For instances of Strike Mitigation (i.e. where there has been disruption to your learning because of the 2018 industrial action) we recommend you speak to your module convenor or your personal tutor in the first instance. You can also speak to  your Course Rep, or contact the Students’ Guild or FXU Advice units. You can also visit your Hub or email industrialaction@exeter.ac.uk.

Our general mitigation process is not related to the industrial action, but is in place at all times and applies to any individual student who believes that illness or other adverse circumstances are affecting their ability to undertake an assignment. You can read more about general mitigation and how to apply here. You can read more about the difference between Strike Mitigation and general mitigation below.

All academic colleagues who have been on strike were asked to ensure that missed teaching content was provided to you in an alternative format by the end of term 2 (Thursday 29 March), so that on completion of each module you will still have the opportunity to demonstrate attainment of the intended learning outcomes.  This could include the content being provided digitally, via ELE, via a RECAP recording, or by providing you with additional reading materials. If you haven’t received any materials after this date please raise this with your module leader. Alternatively, you can speak to your personal tutor, visit your nearest Hub or email industrialaction@exeter.ac.uk.

All academic colleagues who have been on strike were asked to ensure that missed teaching content was provided to you in an alternative format by the end of term 2 (Thursday 29 March), so that on completion of each module you will still have the opportunity to demonstrate attainment of the intended learning outcomes.  This could include the content being provided digitally, via ELE, via a RECAP recording, or by providing you with additional reading materials. If you wish to discuss the alternative provision provided, please contact your module leader in the first instance. Alternatively, you can speak to your personal tutor, contact your nearest Hub, or email industrialaction@exeter.ac.uk.

We asked colleagues to ensure that missed teaching content was provided to you in an alternative format by the end of Term 2. This could include the content being provided digitally, via ELE, via a Recap recording, or by providing you with additional reading materials. Some colleagues have also decided to reschedule their missed teaching.

The decision about how best to provide the missed content has been made by the module leader (and other academic staff on the module) and will vary depending upon the level of disruption experienced, the content missed, and the nature of the subject matter. We have asked module leaders to consider how best students will be able to meet the intended learning outcomes of their modules and what materials and resources will best support this. This means that not all mitigation will be the same for each module and not all types of mitigation would be appropriate for all modules across all disciplines. We are therefore not applying a ‘one size fits all’ approach, but rather encouraging academic colleagues to take appropriate decisions around the mitigation for their particular module in dialogue with their students/representatives.

You can be assured that all mitigation provided to students on every module will be comprehensively logged and will be considered at each of the Academic Progression and Award Committees (APACs). This is part of the work to protect graduate outcomes for all students, with the APACs evaluating the impact and effectiveness of all mitigation provided to ensure fair and equitable outcomes for all students.

If you would like to ask any questions about the mitigation that has been put in place for your module, please contact your module leader.

Strike Mitigation refers solely to circumstances where there has been disruption to your learning because of the 2018 industrial action. In this instance we recommend you speak to your module convenor or your personal tutor in the first instance. You can also speak to  your Course Rep, or contact the Students’ Guild or FXU Advice units. You can also visit your Hub or email industrialaction@exeter.ac.uk.

We also have a general mitigation procedure which is always available for any student across the University who believes that illness or other adverse circumstances are affecting their ability to undertake an assessment. There is further information available on the website, including how to apply.

It is expected that any impact should be minimal. Students will be able to complete the modules they elected to study at the University of Exeter (even if content is delivered by alternative means), undertake any associated assessment, and have grades confirmed in line with expected schedules. The standard examination period of May exams: Tuesday 8th May – Friday 1st June 2018 will be maintained. Please discuss any concerns you may have with your department. If you need any additional support please contact  inbound@exeter.ac.uk.

Any teaching sessions you missed as a result of the industrial action were not recorded and so will not affect your attendance record.  Your Tier 4 visa status will therefore not be affected by the industrial action.

We realise this has been a difficult and uncertain time and would like to highlight resources available to support you, if needed. This includes our self-help tool, SilverCloud and we are putting additional resources into our Wellbeing Services at both the Exeter and Cornwall campuses. Our Academic Skills Teams will also be providing additional skills and support sessions and information is available through MyCareerZone. Arrangements for discipline-level support will be communicated locally.

We have received a number of enquiries from students about the potential for tuition fee refunds or compensation as a result of the industrial action. The University is not considering any form of reduction in fees or compensation because we have mitigation plans in place to ensure that students suffer no detriment as a result of any impact that may be incurred. The University will be keeping full records of any and all impacts of the industrial action to ensure this is the case.

The University will work with the Guild/FXU to determine how to spend the pay that’s been withheld from staff who participated in industrial action. Our primary focus is to ensure students receive appropriate content for any modules that may have been disrupted by the strikes; as such additional resources have been allocated to allow for the provision of alternative content, as well as supporting the work of the Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committees (APACs) which will review and make decisions on degree awards and progression. Additional resources have also been allocated to key services such as Student Wellbeing. All remaining withheld pay will be allocated to activities that support students affected by the strikes and we will continue to allocate further resources over the course of the next few months as the work to mitigate the industrial action continues.

In April 2018 University and College Union (UCU) members across the UK voted in favour of a proposal for the creation of a Joint Expert Panel between UCU and Universities UK (UUK) and consequently further strikes and action short of a strike have been called off.

This new panel will examine the USS 2017 valuation. Work is now underway to appoint the panel Chair and establish terms of reference.

 

We have set up a dedicated email address for students: industrialaction@exeter.ac.uk.