The University of Nottingham is among 58 universities across the country that will experience industrial action by members of the University & College Union (UCU) 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 industrial action and the vast majority of teaching and learning will proceed as usual. Students are being advised to assume that lectures, seminars and classes will take place unless notified otherwise.
FAQs have been published to help students understand how they will be supported during industrial action and the university’s position on what is a national dispute affecting many universities. Please refer students to this information as appropriate.
Schools will explore options to reschedule sessions, provide resources through Moodle, extend deadlines where helpful and ensure that assessments reflect the learning that has taken place. Libraries, computer rooms, and services will be available throughout to enable students to continue their studies and independent learning.
Staff who participate in strike action must confirm this to Human Resources by 12:00 midday on the first day at work after returning from industrial action. Please go to www.nottingham.ac.uk/hr/industrial-action/staff-taking-strike-action.aspx
Issues under dispute
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.
USS pension reforms
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. The level of contributions is determined every three years - full details are published at 2020 Valuation.
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.