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Message to all students from Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive - 4 February 2020

Dear Student,

As you will be aware, national level talks have been taking place throughout January in order to find a resolution to the on-going USS pension and national pay negotiation disputes.
The University and College Union (UCU) has announced further strike dates in relation to both of these issues.

The dates for further planned strike action, are set out below:

  • Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February (two consecutive days)
  • Monday 24 – Wednesday 26 February (three consecutive days)
  • Monday 2 March – Thursday 5 March (four consecutive days)
  • Monday 9 March – Friday 13 March (five consecutive days)

I know the prospect of further industrial action will be unsettling to many of you and I am hopeful that the national talks set to take place in February and March will lead to an agreed resolution to the issues above.

Here at the University we are working with colleagues, student representatives and trade unions on casual employment, through the Fair Employment For All working group, as well as workload and gender and race equality. These local initiatives build on the new national offer made by UCEA last week.

I also wanted to reassure you that we’ve been continuing to regularly meet with colleagues across the University, as well as the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union, to carefully manage the potential impact this further 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.

As detailed in my message before the period of industrial action in November/December, I would like to share some guidance about what to do on the planned strike dates and where to go to access further information, which I hope you find helpful.

What should I do on the planned strike dates?

Not all members of academic staff are members of UCU and some UCU members may not participate in strike action or action short of a strike. Therefore, we would ask you to continue to attend your timetabled sessions, and to submit your assignments by their due dates. Wherever possible, we will let you know in advance if any of your teaching sessions are likely to be affected, however, this may not always be possible as colleagues do not have to let us know if they are participating in the strike action.

Further information

We have developed a Frequently Asked Questions page for you so we can answer any further queries that you might have, and we will keep this page updated throughout this period. I 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.

I want to assure you we’ve been continuing to work hard to ensure the impact any planned strike action may have on your experience is minimised and that your academic outcomes are protected.

We will keep you informed as the situation progresses, however, should you have any immediate concerns or queries, please do email and we will answer your queries as soon as we can.

With best wishes,


Professor Sir Steve Smith FAcSS
Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive
University of Exeter
Northcote House
Queen's Drive
United Kingdom

Tel: 01392 723000
PA: Rachel Hucker (