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Update following the end of this period of national strike action

Industrial action

Industrial action

Industrial action

Industrial action

Update on 23 March 2023

The national strike action planned by members of the University and College Union (UCU) came to an end on Wednesday 22 March. This means all timetabled teaching and supervision activities will now go ahead as planned.

We would like to say again how important your education and welfare are to us, and to reiterate the steps we are taking to protect your academic outcomes. These were set out in a message on 13 February, which you can read here:

We have asked colleagues who participated in the strike action to prioritise the recovery of learning for any disrupted teaching, and/or PhD supervision, by an alternative means by the end of term. There are a variety of ways this may be provided e.g. content may be provided digitally, via ELE, extra reading materials may be supplied or additional sessions may be arranged. Details about how any disrupted learning/teaching is being provided will be shared with you via your Module Convenor so please do look out for further information. We have also asked colleagues to reschedule any disrupted timetabled assessments as soon as possible, and to make sure that you are given plenty of notice about when these will take place.

We would like to reassure you that if you are due to take Summer exams, or other forthcoming assessments, these will go ahead as planned.  Assessment papers will be considered by module leads to ensure all mandatory questions include content which has been covered in undisrupted sessions or, if sessions have been disrupted, replaced in sufficient detail and depth to ensure you are in a position to answer the questions. Your individual exam timetable should have been emailed to you last week, and is also now available through MyTimetable or the iExeter app.

If you are an undergraduate/postgraduate taught student and you have further questions about your course or programme, please contact your module leader, your personal tutor, or your Hub, who will be able to give you further information or signpost you to further support. If you are a postgraduate research student, please contact the PGR Support Team as they will be able to provide you with any advice and guidance you may need.

This page will continue to be updated with the latest information on any further planned strike action. If you have any immediate concerns or queries please email:

Information about impacted teaching/supervision sessions

To support you in your studies, we have asked lecturers who have participated in the strikes to prioritise the recovery of disrupted learning opportunities when they return to work and by the end of term, 31 March 2023, at the latest. This recovery might include the provision of digital learning resources, uploading further information to the virtual learning environment (ELE), or offering sessions to allow you to catch-up with missed material. Please continue to check ELE for any messages/content that have been posted. If you have a query about your studies, please contact your Hub as they are there to support you, or if you have an urgent question, please contact  

To support you at this time, if your scheduled teaching, learning, and/or supervision sessions are cancelled on any of the strike days and you were not notified in advance, we will reimburse you for any travel (in line with our sustainable travel policy) and/or any childcare costs you incurred. This means that if all of the sessions you are set to attend on campus on any given day are cancelled and you have not been notified in advance, you can make an expenses claim to cover your travel and childcare costs. 

  • Travel Costs: In line with the University’s policy on sustainable travel, any student travelling from outside EX1, EX2, and EX4 (Exeter) or TR10 and TR11 postcodes (Cornwall) is able to claim travel costs when they travel to campus and all teaching sessions they were set to attend are cancelled without notice due to strike action. This includes costs of public transport or mileage for those travelling by car. Those who travel to University from within these postcodes with a valid exemption for requiring to use public transport or their car, for example on medical grounds, will also be able to claim expenses.
  • Childcare / Carer costs: Any student who has incurred childcare or caring costs to allow them to attend scheduled teaching, learning, and/or supervision sessions is eligible to obtain reimbursement for these costs when all sessions they were set to attend are cancelled without notice due to strike action

If you meet these criteria, you can contact and provide details of your claim. In order to make a claim, you’ll need proof of costs, for example, a train ticket or receipt for childcare costs. You’ll also need to note the date, time, and details of the teaching and/or supervision session which was cancelled. If you have a valid claim, you’ll be sent an expenses form to complete and your claim will be paid.

Information about exams, assessments and assignments

We would ask you to continue to submit your assignments by their due dates and attend for any exams (or other in-person assessments e.g. presentations) unless you are contacted by your department. 

All departments have considered the implications of the strike activity on assessment deadlines and have established positions that aim to protect your academic outcomes, which remains of paramount importance. All departments will communicate any changes to their assessments, including submission dates and arrangements, if it becomes clear that students’ ability to complete an assessment has been affected by strike action. You are advised to contact your Hub/Education Support Team if you have any queries.

If you have a PGR viva examination scheduled on any of the strike days, and the PGR Administration Team has been advised of the date, we will contact you to confirm any changes so please do look out for emails from

The summer exams will go ahead as planned and you should receive your timetable during the week commencing 13 March. We will adjust and adapt exams and assessments to ensure they are fair. Where there has been impact, we will adjust assessment deadlines as required to ensure you have sufficient time to complete them. We will ensure that the compulsory elements of your examinations and assessments are drawn from content which has been covered in undisrupted sessions, or which has been replaced in appropriate detail and depth. We will also ensure that your assessment feedback is provided within 15 days or, where this is not possible, we will advise you of any possible delay as soon as we can.

Where your module or assessment has been impacted, we will ensure that your final marks are fair.

We will take the necessary steps to adjust final module marks, including by comparing the results of each impacted module group with previous groups and years and applying adjustments to ensure consistency. We will also review your individual performance across your full programme and make individual adjustments where necessary.

Information about accessing further support and wellbeing resources

There are wellbeing resources to support you if needed, including our self-help tools, SilverCloud, or get in touch with our Wellbeing ServicesYou can also contact the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union Advice services for independent and confidential advice.  

We are holding a number of face-to-face informal drop-in sessions so you can ask questions or share your experiences. These sessions are taking place in various locations around our Streatham, St Luke’s and Penryn campuses. Do come along and talk to us about any concerns you may have, and we will do our best to help. 

In addition to the drop-in sessions, we have organised a University talk and Q&A, via Teams Live, on Monday 27 March, 18:30 – 19:30. All students are welcome to attend this open session, which you can join through the invitation in your outlook calendars.  

Information about the national disputes

Members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) took national strike action, and/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 claim for pay and working conditions for university staff. 

National talks have now concluded on the terms of reference for pay spine, workload, contract types and pay gaps negotiations, with a joint statement issued.

These previous joint statements issued on 17 February and 2 March show progress at a national level. 

Previously, recognising the cost-of-living pressures facing colleagues, higher education employers have brought forward the 2023-24 national pay negotiations. In January 2023 UCEA, representing more than 140 participating HE employers, made a pay offer which prioritises the disproportionate effect of high inflation on colleagues on the lower part of the national payspine, with a minimum increase of 5% for all other members of staff. Additionally, part of the increase will be implemented in February 2023, with the balance in August 2023. (National pay uplifts are normally implemented in August each year.) 

As outlined in our Joint University and Exeter UCU statement, we value the close working relationship we have with our campus trades unions.At Exeter, we implemented the increase to the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage in September 2022 (earlier than the normal date of November), providing an increase of approximately 10% for colleagues in grades B and C. We implemented other changes to grades B to F in November 2022, benefiting around 60% of colleagues - more info on this is online 

Universities UK (UUK), on behalf of USS employers, has issued a joint statement with the University and College Union (UCU) outlining how both parties are working together on the future of USS pension scheme benefits.

National talks in the week beginning 20 February 2023 looked at proposals to return the USS pensions scheme to a comparable level of future benefits as existed before the April 2022 changes, and to achieve a reduction in costs for members and employers, should the forthcoming 2023 valuation allow.

Higher education employers are working to ensure that USS continues to be a secure, valuable, and affordable retirement income for university staff. In advance of the next triennial valuation of USS which takes place in March 2023, UUK (representing HE employers) and UCU (representing USS members) have established a joint Valuation Technical Forum to assess how the next valuation should be carried out.  

While UUK and USS can express a view on how the valuation is carried out, ultimately decisions on the valuation methodology rest with the independent USS Trustee. UUK have worked jointly with the USS Trustee to produce an accelerated valuation timeline, with the hope that this demonstrates sustained improvements in funding. At that point, UUK will work with UCU to agree any changes as quickly as possible.   

UUK are also working with UCU on a joint statement to the Department of Work and Pensions on pension regulation. Joint work is continuing on low-cost options for employees who want more flexible pension contributions.    

National talks have now concluded on the terms of reference for pay spine, workload, contract types and pay gaps negotiations, with a joint statement issued.

These previous joint statements issued on 17 February and 2 March show progress at a national level. 

At Exeter, we are continuing to progress our Fair Employment For All approach - this has led to improved working arrangements for Postgraduate Research Students employed as Postgraduate Teaching Associates and more than 700 staff on fixed term contracts being converted to open-ended appointments. We continue to work towards achieving our equality, diversity and inclusion objectives and Race Equality Charter and Athena Swan action plans. Progress on closing the equality pay gaps are shared online. Our new Wellbeing, Inclusion and Culture Committee has established a Workload Allocation and Equity Working Group, which includes UCU representation, to develop revised University Workload Principles to guide workload allocation and an agreed governance framework at University and Faculty level. Our commitment to further joint working with UCU on these issues is set out in the joint statement agreed with UCU.

National pay negotiations agree changes to the national payspine. While non-pay issues are negotiated at institution level, the higher education employers’ organisation, UCEA, has offered joint work with trade unions to develop guidance on good practice on employment contracts, workload and pay equality, for implementation at local level.

In addition to the national strike days, the UCU advised their members to begin action short of a strike (ASOS) from Wednesday 23 November. If academic colleagues participate in action short of a strike it means they will come to work on their usual working days and will carry out their scheduled teaching activities unless they are taking strike action on the days above. However, they may choose not to undertake any voluntary activities, cover for absent colleagues, or reschedule lectures not delivered due to strike action. The current mandate for strike action and ASOS ends on 20 April 2023.  

At the present time, the University is not considering any form of reduction in fees or compensation as the extent of any industrial action is still unknown. The University is working on ways to potentially mitigate the impact on students. and we are working hard to ensure that students suffer no detriment as a result of any impact that may be incurred.

It is our priority to minimise any disruption to students and staff. A mitigation group is working with Faculties and Services and alongside representatives of the Students’ Guild and the Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union to identify how we can minimise any disruption. For example if teaching activity is cancelled the University will ask academic colleagues to replace the teaching content by another means (digital, ELE, recap recording, reading materials etc) by the end of term.

The University will be keeping records of the industrial action to enable us to mitigate the impact on students. We are focusing our efforts on mitigation and reducing impact but are aware compensation may be necessary for a limited number of students once the full individual impact is known.

We will endeavour to keep colleagues and students informed via email and staff and student newsletters and on these webpages. 

The University and the Guild and Students’ Union will work in partnership to determine how best to use the pay that is withheld from colleagues who participate in strike action. As in previous years, we will ensure that funds are allocated to initiatives that directly benefit our students and enhance their experience and wellbeing. Further information, including details of how the funds have been allocated, will be shared in due course.