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We are strongly in support of academic and non-academic staff who are having the terms of their pensions changed without their consent or approval. We support their right to take action, and hope that employers see sense and accept staff demands before these strikes take place. 

We’re asking all students to call on UCL to resume negotiations with staff and to avoid the need for strike action. This tool put together by UCU will help you get in touch with UCL’s Provost, calling on him and the leaders of other UK universities to get back around the negotiating table with staff.

We will be campaigning to get UCL to refund students for missed lectures.

At our General Assembly on Tuesday 20 February a motion was passed which included an amendment to campaign for fee refunds. Read more about General Assembly.

UPDATE: Read Sarah’s blog post on the fee refunds campaigns

Jump to info on Fee Refunds

Jump to info on Extenuating Circumstances

Background / Frequently Asked Questions

What is going on?

The University and College Union (UCU), the trade union representing academic and support staff, has announced industrial action over the future of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) after negotiations ended without an agreement between representatives from UCU and Universities UK (UUK).

Watch the UCU information for students video here

UPDATE: UCU have been offered a deal, read about it here. UCU have rejected the deal and the strikes will continue.

Will Union buildings and services be open?

Yes, all Union buildings, cafes, bars and the gym will be open as usual, as will the Study on floor 2 of Gordon St. If you arrive on campus to find your lecture cancelled, our spaces are open for you to study.

Why don’t you have all the answers?

We have been in regular contact with UCL and UCU to get clarity over what is happening during the strike action, many of our questions have been answered and responses are detailed below, however we have written to UCL’s Provost to demand clarity over a number of issues students are facing for which no response has yet been given. This includes attendance monitoring for international students and fee refunds. Read our open letter.

UPDATE: Read UCL’s answers to our questions, including Tier 4 Visa, exams and coursework, extenuating circumstances

Why is the strike taking place?

The dispute is over proposed changes to the USS pension. USS is the main pension scheme for academic and support staff which, since its foundation, has provided a decent income in retirement for hundreds of thousands of people. In a sector where many would earn more working in the private sector, the USS pension has provided compensation for relatively modest salaries and has acted as a magnet for talented overseas staff.  First Actuarial estimates that a typical lecturer will receive £208,000 less under the proposals than presently.

In a ballot, on the proposals, 88% of UCU members voted in favour of strike action. 

Proposed Dates

  • February: Thursday 22, Friday 23, Monday 26, Tuesday 27, Wednesday 28.
  • March: Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7, Thursday 8, Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15, Friday 16.

When will it happen?

The strike will be one of the largest ever by staff on UK campuses. Strikes will begin on the 22 February 2018. 61 universities will be taking part in the action over a four-week period that will begin with a five-day walkout either side of a weekend. There will then be four days of strikes from Monday 5 - Thursday 8 March and a full five-day walkout the following week (12 - 16 March). 

Why are we supporting our staff?

We are strongly in support of academic and support staff, as they are an integral part of our university community and it is important that they are fairly rewarded for the contribution they make to our education.  We hope that the employers (universities) recognise the seriousness of the situation and agree to meaningful negotiations before the strikes begin. 

At our General Assembly in January, students voted with a 99 percent majority to back staff taking industrial action.  An attack on our staff is an attack on the education of us all – as well as the fact that many PhD students at UCL will also be striking themselves. 

Refund of fees - how do I get a refund on fees?

The UCL-Student Relationship Terms and Conditions defines your rights and responsibilities under the contract you made with UCL when you accepted the offer to study at UCL.

Section 7.1 (7) (f) says that

UCL may need to change or cancel part of or an entire Programme due to circumstances beyond its reasonable control and foreseeability and may do so without liability provided that notice of the change or cancellation is given. Examples of such circumstances include industrial action, over or under demand for courses or modules, lack of funding, non-availability of suitable staff, severe weather, fire, civil disorder, political unrest, government restrictions and concern with regard to the transmission of serious illness. If the circumstances are continuing for a period of more than 30 days, either you or UCL may terminate the contract without liability immediately on giving written notice to the other.

For undergraduates, in these circumstances, it is unlikely that UCL will agree to a refund of fees. However, as per the policy passed at our most recent meeting of the members, the Union will endeavour to enter discussions about securing refund with UCL and update you in due course. Students on other programmes can contact our Advice Service for further assistance and these will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

More information on UCL’s terms and conditions can be found here.

Extenuating Circumstances - what can I do if the strike affects my assessments?

You may be concerned about missing key parts of your course and how this will affect your assessment. At UCL, extenuating circumstances are defined as circumstances which are sudden, unexpected, significantly disruptive and beyond the student’s control and which may affect their performance at assessment.

We strongly suggest that you log any disruption to your classes and also keep evidence of the disruption if you wish to apply for extenuating circumstances at a later date.

For more support on the above or any other academic problem, our Advice Service is here to help. You can also contact our Advice Service using our contact form. More on UCL’s extenuating circumstances policy can be found here

Will Tier 4 visa students be penalised for not attending classes? 

UCL have said that if you are a student on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be penalised if you are unable to attend classes that have been cancelled due to the strike action. UCL will assume that you are engaged with your studies in other ways if your classes are not running. 

Want to join striking staff?

Meet outside the UCL quad main gates on the morning of each strike day (from 7am). UCU coordinators will let you know where to go.