Walkouts start again today, and are set to happen across 14 days
Staff at 74 universities across the UK have started a fresh wave of walkouts today, sparking calls for student compensation to make up for the lost teaching hours.
The strikes are happening because of two disputes: one over pensions and one over pay and working conditions. Staff at 60 universities previously went on strike over these issues at the end of 2019, and union members at an additional 14 institutions have since voted to join the industrial action.
Sussex University is the only one so far to have pre-emptively offered refunds on the December strikes, while students at a number of the affected universities have set up petitions online demanding refunds.
How much compensation should I ask for?
Most of the petitions have calculated their compensation requests by dividing the amount of tuition fees paid by the number of contact days in the year, and then multiplying that figure by the days lost.
As an example, the petition for Newcastle University calculates that if you paid £9,250 in fees for 155 teaching days, you’re paying £59.67 per teaching day. That means that 14 lost teaching days totals £835.38.
How do I make a compensation claim for the UCU strikes?
The first thing you need to do is make a claim via your university’s internal complaints procedure – you should be able to find the details of this online pretty easily. This procedure will be different for every university, although it’s very likely to have a time limit attached to it.
It could take a couple of months for the university to decide whether it’s going to compensate you, but you should receive confirmation that they’ve received your complaint within a week or two.
Once the university has made its decision, it will send you a ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter, which outlines whether or not it’s going to uphold the complaint.
If the university decides not to give you any compensation or it offers you an amount that you don’t think is enough, you’ll need this ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter to be able to make your next step.
The next thing to do is to contact the relevant regulator – the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) if you’re in England, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman if you're studying in Scotland, or the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman if you're in Northern Ireland.
You’ll have 12 months from the date on your ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter to file your complaint with the regulator – who will either agree with the university’s decision or force it to uphold your complaint.
How likely is it that I’ll be able to claim compensation for the UCU strikes?
Students have been given refunds for strikes in the recent past – in 2018, there were 14 days of university staff walkouts, which the OIA received more than 80 complaints about.
The OIA ruled that a number of these students should be refunded at least half their tuition fees for lost teaching time if their university failed to minimise disruption during that time. This meant that some students were given hundreds of pounds in compensation.
So, failing to minimise disruption was key in the OIA’s previous rulings – this could include things like not rearranging cancelled lectures or not providing videos or podcasts to make up for lost teaching time. If you think your university hasn’t taken reasonable steps to minimise disruption, you could well have a decent chance of getting some money back.
What are the full dates of the university strikes?
The 14 days of walkouts will be spread out over four weeks in February and March, finishing with a full week of strikes. The exact dates of the strikes are:
Week one: Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February
Week two: Monday 24, Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February
Week three: Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 March
Week four: Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 March.
The full list of universities affected by the UCU strikes
Aston University, Bangor University, Cardiff University, University of Durham, Heriot-Watt University, Loughborough University, Newcastle University, The Open University, The University of Bath, The University of Dundee, The University of Leeds, The University of Manchester, The University of Sheffield, University of Nottingham, The University of Stirling, University College London, The University of Birmingham, The University of Bradford, The University of Bristol, The University of Cambridge, The University of Edinburgh, The University of Exeter, The University of Essex, The University of Glasgow, The University of Lancaster, The University of Leicester, City University, Goldsmiths College, Queen Mary University of London, Royal Holloway, The University of Reading, The University of Southampton, The University of St Andrews, Courtauld Institute of Art, The University of Strathclyde, The University of Wales, The University of Warwick, The University of York, The University of Liverpool, The University of Sussex, The University of Aberdeen, The University of Ulster, Queen's University Belfast, Birkbeck College, University of London, SOAS, University of London, The University of Oxford, The University of East Anglia
Pay and conditions dispute only:
Bishop Grosseteste University, Bournemouth University, Edge Hill University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow School of Art, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, St Mary's University College, Belfast, Roehampton University, Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Brighton, The University of Kent, Bath Spa University, Royal College of Art, University of Huddersfield, University of Winchester, University of East London, Leeds Trinity University, UAL London College of Arts, De Montfort University, University of Greenwich
Pensions dispute only:
Scottish Association of Marine Science, Institute for Development Studies, Keele University, King's College London, Imperial College London