Industrial action

We deeply regret industrial action by the University and College Union (UCU) and assure you that our priority is to minimise the effect on students and the 90% of staff who will not participate in industrial action.

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 many universities.

The industrial action

When will industrial action take place? 

  • Alongside 58 universities across the country, our University will experience industrial action by members of the University & College Union (UCU) from in the form of strike action from 1 to 3 December 2021 followed by action short of a strike (working to contract).
  • The university will remain open throughout the strike action and the majority of teaching and learning will proceed. Please assume that lectures, seminars and classes will take place unless notified otherwise.

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.
  • At Nottingham, the national pay award under dispute is combined with local pay increases and rewards paid by the university which means that a significant proportion of our staff received pay increases in August of between 3.5% and 4.5%. We are also reducing our gender and ethnic pay gaps.
  • Nottingham is already 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 many more, if not all, Schools for 2022/23. Last year we also introduced the new Principles for Working with Teaching Affiliates, developed in partnership with the University’s UCU Branch to ensure fair and equitable pay across the University.
  • The USS pension scheme has 467,000 members and currently has a deficit of £15 billion between its current funds and its future pension promises to members. As with all pension schemes, staff and university employers both pay contributions into the scheme to fund their future pensions.
  • Without reform, staff would face increases in how much they pay into the pension of 12% in April and a further 17% in October 2022 - an extra £858 in pension costs over the first twelve months for someone earning £40,000 - with contributions set to rise further every six months until 2025.
  • Without reform, the University of Nottingham’s employer contributions would increase by up to £35 million, and push our running costs higher than our current income, leading to drastic cuts to budgets for research, teaching and student services.
  • The proposals currently under consultation with pension scheme members - backed up by £1.3 billion support from universities - would keep contributions affordable for members and retain defined benefits which are rarely seen in other schemes.

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 industrial action, 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 is ffected by industrial action, normal attendance monitoring will take place. It is worth remembering that the regulations governing student attendance and engagement mean 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?

  • Our libraries, computer rooms, and other learning environments and services will be available throughout the period to enable ongoing support for your studies.
  • 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 affected by industrial action 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 normally be maintained in the same proportions, for example, 10% presentation, 30% coursework, 60% exam. In some cases, where assessments cannot be completed due to industrial action, you may be offered part-for-whole (eg the average for the 30% coursework and 60% exam may replace a missed 10% presentation). However, in all cases you will be offered an opportunity to take the missed assessment at a later date.
  • 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 industrial action 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 or oral examination is affected by industrial action?

  • The planned industrial action does not include a boycott of marking or assessment. 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.

Will my work be marked if lecturers are on strike?

  • Yes, the mandate for industrial action does not include a marking boycott, although some delays may be experienced.
 
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 affected by industrial action, you should attend as normal, and the normal processes for attendance monitoring will apply to sessions which are not disrupted.
  • If a session is affected by 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?

  • The university is making every effort to minimise the impact of industrial action on you and will remain open throughout the strike action. Our libraries, computer rooms, and services will be available throughout to enable ongoing support for your studies.
  • 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. 
  • Given the actions we are taking to minimise disruption, any circumstances giving rise to a right to financial compensation are unlikely to arise.
  • If you are demonstrably affected by industrial 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 asks Schools to reinvest the money not paid to striking staff to support students who were affected by strikes - and we will do the same this time. 
  • The university advises Schools of the amount of salary deduction that applies to them and invites them to consider where this could best be spent in discussion with their student representatives.
 

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

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