Frequently Asked Questions: Strike action in February and March 2023
A number of days of strike action are being planned to take place at the University of Brighton through February and March 2023 as part of a national campaign by the University and College Union (UCU) and Unison.
You will have already received an email from the Dean of your School about what this may mean for you. This page is designed to help you further, by answering some of the more commonly asked questions.
This page was last updated on 21 Feb 2023.
When are strikes happening?
The University and College Union (UCU), which represents academic staff working in 150 UK universities, is planning strike action in February and March 2023 as part of a national campaign.
The full list of dates is as follows:
- Wednesday 1 February 2023
- Thursday 9 February 2023
- Friday 10 February 2023
- Tuesday 14 February 2023
- Wednesday 15 February 2023
- Thursday 16 February 2023
- Thursday 16 March 2023
- Friday 17 March 2023
- Monday 20 March 2023
- Tuesday 21 March 2023
- Wednesday 22 March 2023
Continuous industrial action in the form of action short of a strike (ASOS), which began on 23 November, continues.
What is the UCU strike action all about and is the dispute affecting all universities? And what is the University of Brighton doing to resolve the dispute?
For the UCU, this second round of strike action follows on from that which happened in November 2022 and is part of a national dispute about pay and conditions involving UCU.
UCU’s action is, at its core, about the national negotiations which take place to agree pay for staff across the Higher Education sector. The union wants to reopen negotiations for the 2022-23 pay award which was agreed last July and has been paid to staff at the University since August.
We are one of 150 universities where industrial action is taking place in relation to this and, since this is a national dispute, the University cannot act independently to influence the outcomes that UCU is seeking.
UCU is calling for:
- an increase to all spine points on the national pay scale of at least inflation (RPI) +2% or 12%, whichever is the higher
- nationally agreed action, using an intersectional approach, to close the gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps
- an agreed framework to eliminate precarious employment practices by universities
- nationally agreed action to address excessive workloads and unpaid work, to include addressing the impact that excessive workloads are having on workforce stress and ill-health
- for the standard weekly, full-time contract of employment to be 35 hours, with no loss of pay
You can view the pay and benefits the University offers to its staff here.
Are all staff at the University going on strike?
No. Staff can take part in the action should they choose to do so, whether they are a union member or not. Members of staff who choose not to take part will be working normally.
Around 14% of the University’s academic staff took part in the previous round of UCU strike action related to this dispute in November 2022.
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.
Can I join a picket line?
No. Only those who are a party to the dispute can join a picket line. Members of other unions or students cannot lawfully join a picket as supporters.
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 should not be obstructed from doing so.
Will I still be able to access support services and my SSGT?
How will I know whether my teaching sessions will take place?
We anticipate limited disruption in most schools. However, staff members who are striking do not need to inform the University in advance that they are doing so. Please check your personalised timetable (via My Brighton) on a daily basis for cancellations during the strike period and look out for emails or My Studies announcements. Your Dean of School will contact you should they believe that there may be sustained disruption as a result of strike action in your School.
Am I entitled to a refund on my fees if my learning was disrupted by the strike action?
We are monitoring the impact of the strike action on student learning and plans are being put in place to ensure students are still appropriately supported to meet the learning outcomes of their course to allow them to progress to the next year/stage or graduate with their degree award this year. Some of our students may also be contacted by their tutors or lecturers with information about the plans that they have put in place.
If you have any concerns about changes to your course as a result of strike action, please contact your School Operations Manager.
What should I do if I have an assessment due during the strike period?
All deadlines for assessments during the strike period will be moved to ensure that no student is disadvantaged. No assessments following the strike will be based on lost learning opportunities if it is not possible to address these prior to the assessments.
Will any allowance be made for lost learning on the grading of assessments and examinations?
Adjustments will be made to assessments and examinations where appropriate to ensure that no students are materially disadvantaged as a direct result of the 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, there will be opportunities to address this.
Our focus will be on ensuring all students can achieve their learning outcomes to progress to the next year/stage of their studies or graduate with their degree award this year.
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 an international student with a Tier 4 visa, 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 by the strike action at the University.
Who will support me on my placement if my placement tutor is on strike?
Any students on placement requiring support should contact their Head of Practice Learning and Development or their School office.
Will students still be able to graduate or progress?
The university would expect to be able to mitigate any impact because of industrial action on assessment, marking, and progression to the following year and awarding of degree classification.