Strike action: information for students

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted to take strike action in February and March 2018. This is in response to proposals to change the benefits structure of USS, the pension scheme for academic and professional staff at over 300 UK higher education institutions. You can read more about the background to these proposed changes on the websites of UUK (the umbrella body for UK universities which has been negotiating these pension changes on behalf of employers) and UCU.

The University is committed to minimising disruption to students and to the many members of staff who do not wish to participate in industrial action. We will be monitoring the situation closely and exploring ways to provide additional support to students during the period of industrial action if necessary.

When are the strike days?

UCU is asking its members to strike on the following dates over a four-week period:

  • Week one - Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February
  • Week two - Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)
  • Week three - Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)
  • Week four - Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

An agreement may be reached between employers and the union, in which case the strikes may come to an end before 16 March.

How many members of staff at Aston will be taking part?

Staff are not required to notify us of their intention to take part in industrial action so we cannot give a precise number of those taking part. Of 270 UCU members entitled to vote in the ballot on industrial action at Aston, 149 voted for strike action and 168 voted for action short of a strike. There are over 1,100 academic staff at Aston, as well as research and School staff who also deliver teaching.

Should I turn up to lectures and other teaching on strike days?

Yes. Assume that all your scheduled teaching is happening as normal unless you have been notified otherwise.

Will I have to cross a picket line?

We expect that there will be some picket lines around campus, however, they will not prevent people who want to go to work from doing so, or from students getting to and from classes.

How do I know if my teaching will be affected?

Your lecturers may tell you about a cancellation but there is no legal obligation for staff to provide warning. If your lecturers do tell you that a session is cancelled please use this time for independent study. In terms of assessment, no student will be disadvantaged as a result of the strike action.

I have been recorded as absent from a class which was cancelled. What should I do?

As staff are not required to tell us if they are going on strike, this may lead to students being recorded as absent in lectures that were due to take place. You do not need to worry about this. Once the strike is over, we can retrospectively amend attendance records to reflect any cancellations caused by the strike.

Will I get compensation for the teaching I've missed?

We are committed to making sure that, in terms of assessment, no student is disadvantaged as a result of the strike, and we are working hard to arrange an equivalent learning experience for students who have missed lectures as a result of industrial action.

If, after the strike has concluded, students still believe and can evidence that their degree performance or future prospects have been affected, notwithstanding the mitigating action the University has taken, the position of compensation will be considered on a case by case basis at that point.

Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns?

If you have questions about teaching in your School, you can contact the course convener or the Head of Department. For more general comments and queries, you can email registry_feedbackto@aston.ac.uk

Last updated: 9 March 2018