More than 70,000 staff at 150 universities across the UK will strike for 18 days between February and March in disputes over pay, conditions and pensions, it has been announced.
The University and College Union (UCU) said the precise dates of the action will be confirmed next week.
The union will also re-ballot staff at all 150 universities to renew its mandate and allow industrial action to be called well into 2023, including a marking and assessment boycott from April, unless the disputes are settled.
The UCU said “the clock is ticking” for university bosses to avoid widespread disruption this year.
The union is demanding a meaningful pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living crisis as well as action to end the use of “insecure” contracts.
The union said the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents university employers, made the UCU a pay offer worth between 4% and 5% on Wednesday which the union said was not enough.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Today our union came together to back an unprecedented programme of escalating strike action.
“The clock is now ticking for the sector to produce a deal or be hit with widespread disruption throughout spring.
“University staff dedicate their lives to education and they want to get back to work, but that will only happen if university vice-chancellors use the vast wealth of the sector to address over a decade of falling pay, rampant insecure employment practices and devastating pension cuts. The choice is theirs.”