Industrial action

Industrial action by the University & College Union

We are sorry to inform you that the University of Nottingham is among 150 universities across the country that will experience national industrial action by members of the University & College Union (UCU), in the form of strike action on 1, 9-10, 14-16, 21-23, 27-28 February and 1-2, 16-17 and 20-22 March 2023. Action short of a strike, where staff work to contract and do not undertake voluntary activity, continues.

The University will remain open throughout the industrial action and the vast majority of teaching and learning will proceed as usual. Please assume that your lectures, seminars and classes will take place unless notified otherwise. 

We have published the following FAQs to help you understand how we will minimise disruption for you and the University’s position on what is a national dispute affecting universities across the country.

The industrial action

What are the issues under dispute and can the University resolve them??

  • The dispute concerns pay rises and pension contributions that are set at a national level for all universities, so it cannot be resolved at the University of Nottingham alone. However, action is already being taken that would address some of the grievances expressed in the industrial action.
  • The employers’ pay negotiating body UCEA has implemented a 3% pay rise for staff at point 20 or above on the pay scale, with up to 9% for staff on the lowest spine points.
  • In addition, staff receive automatic local pay increases from the University - aka increments - which rise annually until they reach the maximum spine point for their grade. The University has raised this maximum pay spine to provide a further 3% uplift for all colleagues who are currently on the standard maximum points of these pay scales when it is implemented in August 2022 – in addition to the 3% national pay rise from UCEA.
  • Pay for staff at lower grades is negotiated locally and the University is implementing a three-year pay offer for these staff of 8.2% in year 1, and a 3-year total of 18.5% that exceeds any other offer available in the higher education sector. This is in addition to reforms that will also see these staff receive increased annual leave, pension benefits and enhanced pay rates for bank holiday and closure days.
  • Nottingham is also piloting a model of Graduate Teaching Assistants to end the use of so-called casual contracts, and the expectation is that this model will be extended to all Schools across the current academic year.
  • Backed up by £1.3 billion support form universities, reforms were introduced in April to the USS pension to tackle a significant deficit in the scheme and keep contribution rates for members affordable. A new, full valuation of the scheme is scheduled for March 2023.
  • The University remains committed to supporting the improvement of member contributions or benefits (subject to consultation) without destabilising the pension scheme. We hope that UCU will join employers to agree and take forward reforms at a national scale to the scheme’s governance, conditional indexation and lower cost options. However, there is little evidence of constructive engagement so far.

How might picket lines affect me?

  • Picketing is where staff taking part in industrial action gather outside their place of work in order to seek to persuade others not to work. Picketing is only allowed at or near entrances to and exits from the picket's own place of work.
  • Pickets can request permission to explain their dispute to those entering or leaving the workplace - including students - however, these activities must be carried out peacefully at all times.
  • Pickets do not have the right stop any person crossing the picket line; force a person to listen to them; stop any vehicle; assault, threaten, intimidate, abuse, harass or defame anyone; cause alarm or distress; or obstruct any path, road, entrance or exit.
  • Please note that unless a class has been disrupted, normal attendance monitoring will take place. It is worth remembering that the student Attendance Policy means you must attend all activities to pursue your studies required by your school.
 
Teaching and learning

What happens to teaching and learning during industrial action?

  • Please assume that teaching and learning activities are going ahead, including the supervision of projects and dissertations, and that you attend as planned unless you hear otherwise from your lecturer or School. Similarly, you should continue to submit assignments to existing deadlines.
  • Schools are exploring options to reschedule lost learning wherever possible, provide catch-up resources through Moodle and extend deadlines where helpful. Please keep in touch with your School for information specific to your circumstances.

How will I know if my seminar, lecture or other session is disrupted by industrial action?

  • Where sessions are likely to experience disruption, your School will endeavour to give you advance notice where at all possible. However, staff do not have to inform the University in advance that they intend to take industrial action, so this might not be possible in every case.
  • Should a member of staff not arrive for a teaching session at its planned start time, you should wait for a few minutes to be sure that your lecturer is not late before leaving the room.
  • Please note that unless a class has been disrupted, normal attendance monitoring will take place. It worth remembering that the student Attendance Policy means you must attend all activities to pursue your studies required by your School. 

What should I do if my session is disrupted by industrial action?

  • Please accept our apologies if this does occur. Our libraries, computer rooms, and other learning environments and services will be available throughout the period to enable you to continue your studies and independent learning.
  • Schools are exploring options to reschedule lost sessions where possible, provide catch-up resources through Moodle and extend deadlines where helpful. Please keep in touch with your School for information specific to your circumstances
 
Exams and assessments

If my sessions are disrupted and not rescheduled, how can I be assessed on those topics in examinations or assessments?

  • For your assessments and exams, we will ensure that you are not disadvantaged if you have missed any learning due to the strikes, while of course maintaining the highest standards.
  • Schools will ensure that assessments, exams, coursework and other assignments reflect only the learning that has taken place.
  • In the event that an exam question or assessment task requires learning that has been disrupted by strikes, this would usually be changed or replaced with an equivalent question or task covering material which has been delivered.
  • Assessment methods will be maintained in the same proportions, for example, 10% presentation, 30% coursework, 60% exam.
  • Importantly, we will maintain our quality and standards at all times, with full regard to the Quality Assurance Agency and our Quality Manual, so that you can be assured that your exams assessments will be as robust as they always are. 

What if the assessment cannot be changed?

  • On the limited occasions where an assessment cannot be changed, then Boards of Examiners would make overall adjustments to marks in recognition of the additional difficulties faced by the students on the affected module.
  • The intention would be to ensure that the cancellation of teaching has no detrimental effect on any student in terms of the marks they receive. In such circumstances you would not be required to submit a claim for extenuating circumstances.

What if my viva, oral examination or presentation is disrupted?

  • Should oral examinations, assessments and vivas coincide with the industrial action they will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity. 

Will we be entitled to an extension for dissertations or other submission of work due to the industrial action?

  • You should assume that any deadlines set for submitting work, including dissertations, still apply as normal. Your Schools will aim to maintain assessment deadlines, but also look at where revised deadlines might be helpful for you.
  • Unless you have been told of a change to a specific submission date, the stated deadline will stand, and you will not be automatically entitled to an extension if the submission or dissertation deadline falls within the period of industrial action.
  • If the industrial action has a specific detrimental impact on your personally, you might be able to make a request for Extenuating Circumstances, which supports students with exceptional, unforeseeable, short-term circumstances which affect their ability to study or take assessments.
 
International students

How will the strikes affect my Visa in terms of my attendance record?

  • Your Tier 4 visa conditions are not affected by the industrial action. Unless you are specifically advised that a session has been disrupted, you should attend as normal, and the normal processes for attendance monitoring will apply to sessions which are not disrupted.
  • If a session is disrupted due to industrial action, this will be recorded by the University as a cancelled session, and this will not have a detrimental impact on your attendance record for the purposes of your Tier 4 visa. 

As an international student, do I still need to ask for permission if I want to return to my home country during the period of industrial action? What are the implications for my visa?

  • The industrial action does not change the normal requirements for compliance in terms of your Tier 4 study visa. You should continue to request permission for absences in the normal way.
 
Complaints and compensation

Can I request compensation or a refund of fees?

  • Given the actions we are taking to minimise disruption, any circumstances giving rise to a right to financial compensation are unlikely to arise.
  • The University will remain open throughout the strike action. Libraries, computer rooms, and services will be available to enable students to continue studies and independent learning.
  • Student fees cover a very wide range of services, not just tuition, and our focus remains on addressing any disruption where it occurs, rather than providing financial recompense.
  • Of course, if students are demonstrably affected by strike action, a complaint can be raised through the recognised Student Complaints Policy - and students can also contact the Students' Union Advice Centre for advice - with evidence in support of the complaint.

Why do you deduct salary from staff who take strike action, and what will you do with it?

  • It is standard employment practice not to pay staff who are on strike for the time they are not working.
  • During periods of industrial action, the University will reinvest the money not paid to striking staff to support students who are affected by strikes and the cost-of-living crisis.
 

For the latest news relating to industrial action, please check Current Students.

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