Students to face more disruption as UK university staff back action over pay

Eleanor Busby

Students in universities across the UK could face more strike action by their lecturers if a row over pay is not resolved.

More than two thirds (69 per cent) of University and College Union (UCU) members who took part in a ballot have backed further strike action.

Seven universities in England and Scotland – and three universities in Northern Ireland – could face disruption following the ballot.

The ballot comes after university staff – including lecturers, academics and researchers – rejected the Universities and Colleges Employers Association’s (UCEA) offer of a 2 per cent pay increase.

The union had said the offer does nothing to address the falling value of higher education pay.

It comes after university staff staged 14 days of walk-outs in February and March in a separate dispute over pensions – which affected more than one million students.

Thousands of students signed up to a lawsuit to claim compensation for lost teaching time during the strikes at 65 universities across the UK.

But in the pay ballot, only seven universities in England and Scotland met the required 50 per cent turnout for strike action – which were:

  • Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • University of Huddersfield
  • Leeds Arts University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Sheffield
  • Brighton University

Meanwhile, Queens University Belfast, St Mary’s University College and Ulster University in Northern Ireland also voted in favour of strike action – where the threshold does not apply.

The UCU said that members would be meeting in coming days to discuss the results of the ballot and to decide on the next step.

A UCEA spokesperson said: “The insufficient turn outs when voting for strike action provide clear indications that the great majority of HE staff understand the financial realities for their institution and accept the balanced and fair pay outcome implemented back in August.

"With extra increases for the lower paid and a 2 per cent base uplift for others – half of whom will also receive further increases through pay progression – it was clear that the HE deal stacked up well against other sectors.

"A number of HE institutions have emphasised to us that they find this outcome financially challenging but remain committed to rewarding their valued employees as part of national bargaining."