Student News and Events

News and events for University of Brighton students

Industrial action FAQs

Strike action summary

The following FAQs can be viewed within this Industrial action FAQs PDF document.

What is the strike action all about? And is the dispute affecting all universities?

This strike is part of a national dispute about pay and pensions involving the lecturers’ union UCU. There are 60 universities out of 147 institutions where academic staff have voted to take strike action over pay and/or pensions. The University of Brighton is one of the institutions where this is the case, and as such we have been notified that there will be strike action at this University from 25 November to 4 December followed by action short of a strike until 29 April 2020.

University pay is negotiated collectively at a national level on behalf of all institutions. This means that there is no scope to resolve this dispute at a local level. Staff at universities that did not vote to support the action will all be working normally.

What is action short of a strike?

UCU members taking action short of a strike will come to work on their usual working days but may take one or more of the following actions:

  • working to contract
  • not covering for absent colleagues
  • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
  • not sharing materials relating to lectures or classes cancelled as a result of strike action and;
  • not undertaking any voluntary activities

Are all staff at the University going on strike?

No. Staff who are members of UCU can take part in the action should they choose to do so. All other members of staff and UCU members who choose not to take part will be working normally.

What is being done to resolve the dispute?

Whilst resolution of the strike in terms of pay and pensions rests at a national level, the University of Brighton is already working jointly with our local UCU branch on issues relating to the use of casual and fixed term contracts, the gender pay gap and equality, workloads and wellbeing. The following may be of interest to our students:

We have robust grading systems to ensure that staff get paid at the same grade for work of equal value. We have carried out research internally to assure ourselves that progression through pay scales is fair and our research confirms this.

The gender pay gap is influenced by the proportions of men/women at different grades and at our University the average mean hourly rate gender pay gap for all our academic staff is currently 5.16 percent compared to the 15.1 percent figure for the sector. Within our teaching staff the gender pay gap is even smaller standing at less than 2 percent when we look at the difference by lecturers, senior lecturers and principal lecturers.

We actively seek to regulate and manage the workload of our academic staff and work closely with the UCU on this. Our current workload management analysis shows that the numbers of our academic staff with workload allocations of more than 100 percent has more than halved over the past three years, with only 8 percent of academic staff estimated to have an allocation of 105 percent.

On the ‘casualisation’ agenda we have a clear code that sets out the limits of use of hourly paid lecturers and we have looked to carefully manage the number of staff on fixed term contracts. Our data shows that the percentage of staff who are on fixed term contracts has reduced over the past 3 years. For all staff groups it has reduced by approximately 60FTEs and for teaching staff by approximately 28 FTE. Some of those colleagues being recorded as being on fixed term contracts will also those colleagues providing maternity cover and those who may also be on secondment

The University is currently piloting two new leadership development programmes for the purpose of increasing the representation of BAME and female leaders at all levels of the organisation. The programmes will be bespoke versions of our existing leadership development offering. Recognition of our work to date has recently been recognised in our being awarded a Race Equality Charter Mark Bronze Award – making the University of Brighton one of only fourteen Award holders in the country.

Our commitment to equality and diversity has also been acknowledged through the Athena Swan with many of our schools now holding bronze or silver level awards. In addition the University has been ranked number 72 in Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers List.

After many years as a “Two Ticks” employer, the university has moved to adopt Disability Confident, a new government scheme to support equality and diversity in our staff recruitment practices. This move enables our on-going commitment to employing people with disabilities and health conditions, as well as ensuring every possible opportunity to progress at the university.

Will University buildings/facilities be closed during the strike?

No. We expect all our buildings including school offices, halls of residence, libraries, hospitality outlets and computer rooms to be open as normal. We also expect that most of our facilities will also be open as normal but if you have concerns about any specialist facilities please check with your School office before travelling in.

Will I still be able to access support services and my SSGT?

Yes. We expect all student support services, including SSGTs, to be available as normal. Students can also access the Big White Wall.

How will I know whether my teaching sessions will take place?

We anticipate limited disruption in most schools. However UCU members who are striking do not need to inform the university in advance that they are doing this. So do please check your personalised timetable for cancellations on a daily basis during the strike period and look out for studentcentral announcements. Your Head of School will contact you should they believe that there may be sustained disruption as a result of strike action in your School.

Will I be eligible to claim a reduction/refund on my fees?

The University will do everything possible to ensure that no student is unfairly disadvantaged by the strike and to address any negative impact on their educational experience. Any student who wishes to do so will be able to raise a formal complaint initially via their School. All such complaints will be dealt with on their individual merits.

More information about the University’s complaints procedure can be found on the Student Contract web page.

What should I do if I have an assessment due during the strike period?

The deadlines for all assessments due during the strike period have been moved to 6 December to ensure that no students are disadvantaged. Marks will be released as soon as possible after this. Any assessments following the strike will not be based on learning and teaching missed during strike action.

What happens to any teaching that I might miss during the strike?

We want to reassure you that no student will be unfairly disadvantaged because of the strike. Colleagues across the University will be working together to ensure that should there be an impact on your educational experience that there will be opportunities to address this.

Will my timetable show which sessions are cancelled?

UCU members do not need to inform the University if they are taking part in the strike action. This will make it difficult for the University to know in advance if a teaching session is going ahead or not. You should continue to check your personalised timetables for cancellations on a daily basis during the strike period and look out for StudentCentral announcements.

If there is a picket line does that mean I can still come into Uni?

Yes. All students, non-striking staff and visitors are legally entitled to cross a picket line and will not be obstructed from doing so.

My course has requirements on attendance, how will the strike action affect this?

We will ensure that any absences due to strike action are noted and no students will be disadvantaged by this. If you are a Tier 4 student please be assured that should any of your contact points, including classes, seminars, lectures or meetings with tutors and supervisors be cancelled, this will be recorded as an authorised absence and have no impact on your attendance record or visa status.

Will my placement be affected?

We do not expect any work placements to be affected.

Who will support me on my placement if my personal tutor is on strike?

Any students on placement requiring any support should contact their School office.

Will students still be able to graduate or progress?

Yes. There are recognised and longstanding procedures at the University in relation to assessment, marking, and progression to the following year and awarding of degree classification that will be enforced. Any industrial action will not stop students being able to graduate or continue to the next year/stage of their studies.

Robin Coleman • 15 November 2019

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