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Industrial Action by the UCU

Industrial action

Industrial action

Industrial action

We have more than 6,000 staff at Exeter. Of the of the 947 Exeter UCU members, 490 voted in the ballots, with 386 members (51.7%) supporting taking strike action on the 2021 national pay and working conditions dispute and 408 (51.6%) supporting taking strike action on the national USS pension dispute. This equates to around 6% of University staff. 

Following the ballot results, the UCU has confirmed that they intend to carry out a marking and assessment boycottand some days of strike action to be confirmed. We will provide a further update once we have received further information from the UCU. 

We know the prospect of industrial action may be unsettling to many of you but please be assured that your May examinations will go ahead as planned so please attend all examinations as per your timetable. We would also ask you to continue to attend all other timetabled sessions, and to submit your assignments by their due dates.  

We want to reassure you that since the ballots were announced in March we have been regularly meeting with colleagues across the University, as well as the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union, to carefully manage the potential impact any period of industrial action may have on our University community, and to ensure any measures we put in place are the right ones for our students. 

We would also like to highlight the resources that are available to support you, if needed. This includes our self-help tool, SilverCloud and our Wellbeing Services at both the Exeter and Cornwall campuses.  

We will keep you informed as the situation progresses, however, should you have any immediate concerns or queries please email: industrialaction@exeter.ac.uk

Frequently asked questions

How are students affected?

Summer examinations will proceed as timetabled and students should continue to prepare for them as normal. We will let students and colleagues know if we can identify which teaching, taught revision sessions or other timetabled sessions will be affected. So unless students hear otherwise they should attend lectures and timetabled sessions as normal.  We ask students to concentrate on their studies, continue with exam preperation, and submit all assignments by their due dates.

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

Information about the industrial action

Exeter is among a number of universities where members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) have voted in required numbers in support of strike action or action short of a strike over changes to the national Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which came into effect in April 2022, and UCU's 2021 claim for pay and working conditions for University staff.

We have more than 6,000 staff at Exeter. Of 947 Exeter UCU members, 490 voted in the ballots, with 386 members (51.7%) supporting taking strike action on the 2021 national pay and working conditions dispute and 408 (51.6%) supporting taking strike action on the national USS pension dispute. This equates to around 6% of University staff.  

For data protection reasons, we do not hold a log of union members but we do have an indication of which Colleges and Professional Services members are grouped in, so extra mitigation will take place in those areas. 

No, the University will be open as normal throughout any period of industrial action.

The USS is a national pension scheme. We want our staff to have the retirement they deserve and will continue to offer the best pension we can afford. It is vital that contributions to the scheme are affordable and sustainable for both colleagues and employers. By increasing the employer support to the scheme and making some changes to the future benefits which colleagues accrue, it has been possible to keep member contributions unchanged while employer contributions have risen slightly. For more information about the changes to USS see our colleague newsletter article

Pay is also determined at a national level for University staff. In August 2021, we implemented the national pay award. All points on the pay spine were increased by 1.5%, with higher increases at the lower end of the national pay spine. Different arrangements apply to Grades B and C where the higher of the national rate or Living Wage rate applies. This year's national negotiations on pay are currently underway

We value our colleagues and we know that our students value them too. We aim to be a good employer, and support them to thrive, be fulfilled and reach their potential.  The University has been working with local trade unions to take action to reduce the gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps, casual working arrangements and academic workloads, while working hard to address the financial pressures we are experiencing.

We value the students who also work here. Our Postgraduate Teaching Assistant are now known as Postgraduate Teaching Associates. They have moved to contracts from casual work arrangements and new paid time allowances for preparation have been implemented.

We’d like to emphasise that the taking of May exams will not be affected, so students should continue preparing for them as usual and attend timetabled activity.  

Although we do not anticipate widespread disruption to take place across the University, we do know that some students will be more greatly impacted than others. Providing our students with an excellent educational experience is one of our top priorities. An industrial action response group is working with Colleges and Services and alongside representatives of the Students’ Guild and the Student’s Union to identify how we can manage the impact of this industrial action. We are asking University and College Union (UCU) members to let us know if they intend to participate in action short of a strike so that we can take steps to minimise disruption in the areas which will be affected 

We are considering recognised and long standing procedures that we have used at the University in the past in relation to assessment, marking, progression to the following year and awarding of degree classification to see which are most helpful in this period of industrial action.