University Students Set to be Hit by More Strikes
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University Students Set to be Hit by More Strikes

Seth Nobes January 31, 2022

Leaders at the University and College Union have announced up to ten days of strike action from Monday 14th February, yet again hindering university student’s education. Impacting over a million students, the union has stated that over 50,000 members of staff intend to participate.

How are staff going on strike?

There are two ways in which university staff are choosing to take industrial action. The majority of staff will simply refuse to turn up to work on the days set out for the strike. But this is not applicable to all. Some staff have chosen to show their solidarity through ASOS, which stands for action short of strike. This course of action has been partly in place since 1st December 2021, with plans for it to remain live until Tuesday 3rd May. According to the UCU website, ASOS includes the following:

  • Working to contract
  • Not covering for absent colleagues
  • Removing and not sharing uploaded materials related to strike-affected teaching
  • Not rescheduling strike-affected teaching
  • Not undertaking any voluntary activities, including weekend working
  • A marking and assessment boycott

Why are staff striking?

There are two key factors which have led the UCU to deem this disruptive action necessary: to protect their guaranteed pension, known as the Universities Superannuation Scheme, or USS, and for a list of reasons known as the four fights.


The UCU claim their employers want to increase the amount the amount employees contribute to their pension, based on a way of assessing the scheme they label ‘flawed.’ Dispute over this has been going on for over a decade, with the union insisting university staff’s pensions have been cut by £240,000 since 2011.

Four Fights

The four fights combines four factors which the UCU believes means that staff are being treated unfairly in their workplace. They include:

  • Low pay
  • No job security
  • Unsafe workloads
  • Pay inequality

When and where are the strikes taking place?

According to the UCU website, last updated on 27th January, there are 68 institutions who have staff planning on striking, with a further six involved in ASOS. Follow this link for the full list of universities that will be affected. There are currently 10 planned days for the action to take this. Beginning on Monday 14th February, the strikes will affect all planned teaching for the entirety of that week, until Friday 18th February. Following the weekend, the strikes will continue on Monday 21st February and Tuesday 22nd February. There will be then a break, with the action resuming for one day on Monday 28th February, with strikes on Tuesday 1st March and Wednesday 2nd March concluding the walkouts.

What has happened so far?

This is not the first time the UCU has taken industrial action this academic year. Strikes from 1st-3rd December took place in 58 institutions, impacting the learning of millions of higher education students. Unhappy with the response, the UCU voted overwhemingly for a longer course of strike action.

What do the students think of all this?

A third year student, who wanted to remain anonymous, ‘sympathises with the striking staff,’ but believes it is ‘unfair on students to further impact their education.’ The student explains how ‘in three years of university, I’ve dealt with strikes, Covid, and more strikes. I feel as if my university education is a joke.’ The student believes it is time for universities ‘to address the striking lecturers concerns,’ in order to prevent ‘more students from suffering.’

Another final year student, who also wants to remain anonymous, feels that a combination of strikes and Covid means they ‘have not received the promised quality or quantity of education.’ They believe ‘lecturers are using students as a bargaining tool,’ which makes it ‘difficult to sympathise with the strikes.’ They describe some of the action as ‘unfair, especially given that students do not have the ability to implement the desire change.’ However, they acknowledge ‘the desperation of the unions’ which would have ‘led to such impactful action.’

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Seth Nobes is a freelance writer for Freshered, focusing on university sport. He is currently studying for an MA in Sports Journalism, as well as the NCTJ diploma, at St Mary's University, Twickenham after graduating with a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Birmingham. Seth is also an editor for the Sports Gazette, with a keen focus on cricket. He has written and commentated on a wide variety of sports, ranging from football and rugby, to sailing and judo, for publications such as Vavel, Deep Extra Cover, Burn FM, and Redbrick. He is also a long-suffering Watford fan, for his sins.