University College Union (UCU) industrial action at City

City will be affected by 5 strike days from Monday 28th March – Friday 1st April.

Unfortunately, we have been informed that the University and College (Trade) Union (UCU) and UNISON will be taking a further period of strike action.

We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause and will continue to do all that we can to minimise the effect on your studies.

Industrial action dates

  • UCU will take five days of strike action on: Monday 28 March – Friday 1 April 2022 (inclusive).
  • UNISON will take two days of strike action on: Thursday 31 March and Friday 1 April.

The current period of ‘Action Short of a Strike’ (ASOS) also continues for UCU. This could mean participating members working to contract, not taking part in any voluntary activities or not covering for absent colleagues. It could also include not rescheduling classes or activities cancelled due to strike action.

The following frequently asked questions aim to provide you with additional information and reassurance. We will continue to add to the FAQs.

What this means at City

On Monday-Wednesday, our buildings on campus will remain open as usual.

On Thursday and Friday, we will aim to open some areas of campus to facilitate essential practical teaching and provide study spaces for those who don’t have sufficient study spaces and resources at home. To ensure we can open safely, the majority of other planned teaching is likely to move online and other spaces across campus will be closed. Your timetable will be updated, and your School will be in touch with further information soon.

How we will support you

We would like to reassure you that we will continue to prioritise the delivery of your teaching, assessment and support throughout this period.

To minimise the impact on your education as much as possible, we are developing contingency plans and putting mitigations in place to limit any possible disruption. If we do need to cancel any lectures or other scheduled activities, we will be in touch to inform you as soon as we can.

Some Schools and Departments may be more affected than others. If we need to cancel a lecture or other scheduled activity, we will endeavour to inform you as soon as we can. Your lecturers and senior colleagues in your Schools will alert you to any changes and alternative arrangements to your programme.

Background on the industrial action

The five days of UCU strike action are in support of the disputes over both changes to the contribution levels for the pension scheme, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and the outcome of the national pay negotiations for 2021/22, together with the linked concerns on pay, equality, casualisation and workload – the ‘Four Fights’.

The two days of UNISON action is in support of the dispute over pay.

Further information and questions

You can find further information on the industrial action and implications in the below Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have any other questions about the Industrial Action, please contact our dedicated inbox.

If you have queries about your programme, please contact your School using the following details:

Frequently asked questions

You may have questions about what industrial action is, what it means for you and how you can find support during this time. We have tried to answer the most common questions below.

What form will the industrial action take?

The industrial action will take the form of both strike action and Action Short of Strike (ASOS).

Strike action is when staff refuse to work. At universities, this includes not doing any work-related activity, such as teaching students, marking coursework, attending meetings, sending emails related to work and carrying out administrative tasks.

It also includes not preparing for work scheduled after the member returns from strike. Striking staff may create a picket line by standing outside their workplace to tell people why they are taking part in industrial action and ask them not to cross the line.

ASOS could mean participating members working to contract, not taking part in any voluntary activities or not covering for absent colleagues. It could also include not rescheduling classes or activities cancelled due to strike action.

What are picket lines and will they take place during the strikes?

A picket line is where a group of union members on strike gather outside their place of work. During the strikes at City, a group of members of the Unions may congregate outside a university entrance to explain their cause to colleagues or students. A member of staff on the picket line may provide you with a leaflet which gives more information about their cause. They may hold banners or signs.

Pickets do not prevent students or staff from entering the building.

During strike action, you are expected to attend teaching as usual. The university will not repeat teaching, tutorials or related activity that goes ahead normally during the strike action.

You are also expected to submit any assessments, including coming into City to provide a hard copy, if this is a specific requirement, or to complete in-person assessments such as tests or presentations. If you choose not to participate in an assessment, this may be taken as a non-submission and you should contact your Course Office.

When will the action take place?

Action Short of Strike (ASOS) will take place from Monday 7th February.

Industrial action dates:

  • UCU will take five days of strike action on: Monday 28 March – Friday 1 April 2022 (inclusive).
  • UNISON will take two days of strike action on: Thursday 31 March and Friday 1 April

The current period of ‘Action Short of a Strike’ (ASOS) also continues for UCU. This could mean participating members working to contract, not taking part in any voluntary activities or not covering for absent colleagues. It could also include not rescheduling classes or activities cancelled due to strike action.

Will my lectures and teaching still take place?

Yes, in many cases we expect your classes to take place as planned. Some Schools and Departments may be more affected than others. If there are any changes or cancellations due to staff illness, we will seek to contact you as usual. Please look at your emails and on Moodle for any announcements.

On Thursday and Friday, we will aim to open some areas of campus to facilitate essential practical teaching and provide study spaces for those who don’t have sufficient study spaces and resources at home.

To ensure we can open safely, the majority of other planned teaching is likely to move online and other spaces across campus will be closed. Your timetable will be updated, and your School will be in touch with further information soon.

Will I be able to contact my personal tutor/course officer etc during the strike?

Yes, you will still be able to contact staff as you usually would. There may be a delay in receiving a response, so if your question requires urgent attention or in doubt, please contact your Course Office.

Will I be penalised for my attendance if my classes are cancelled?

No, we will not penalise you for not attending classes that are cancelled due to industrial action. You should continue to attend all monitoring points wherever possible.

If you are student on a visa sponsored through City, your visa status will be unaffected by the industrial action. Classes cancelled due to industrial action will not be treated as unauthorised absences or count towards any missed contact points.

What support is available to me?

Our teams across the University and Students’ Union will continue to support you. You can find further information about the services on our Help and Support page and can speak to the Student Centre and Students’ Union for further advice.

Will I be able to apply for a refund of my fees due to the action?

We will be monitoring very carefully the impact of strike action on the teaching of modules, programmes and individual students. Our primary focus will be on mitigating against the impact of any missed teaching and in ensuring overall learning outcomes for modules are met.

This may include alternative methods of providing content and supporting students.

City remains committed to delivering an educational programme for each student during any period of industrial action and it will seek to ensure that students remain able to complete their programmes of study and graduate as anticipated.

What is City doing to mitigate against the impact of industrial action for students?

We recognise that uncertainty on your teaching and assessment can be frustrating. We aim to ensure all students have the information you need to navigate the situation.

Staff are not obligated to tell the University or their students that they are taking action in advance. It is possible that some staff may choose to let you know directly that teaching is cancelled.

City is taking reasonable steps to establish the likely impact on the timetable and if lectures or other teaching activity are likely to be cancelled, we will let affected students know as soon as we are able to.

We have set up an Industrial Action Quality & Standards Group that will meet ahead of and throughout the action to maintain an overview of the academic impact of industrial action across the University. This group includes representation from all Schools, and the President of the Students’ Union.

We are working hard to keep our buildings open on strike days, wherever possible, and put in place the necessary health and safety measures to keep the campus open.

I am a postgraduate research student - what will this mean for me?

It may be the case that your supervisor takes action and therefore any scheduled supervision for a strike day may be cancelled and need to be rescheduled.

If you have a viva examination or formal progression meeting planned, then please assume this will go ahead unless you hear otherwise.

I want to make a complaint due to strike action – what do I do?

We will be monitoring the impact of strike action on the teaching of modules, programmes and individual students very carefully. Our primary focus will be on mitigating against the impact of any missed teaching, and to ensure no student is disadvantaged in assessment through any disruption.

We wish to cooperate with students to resolve issues before the need for making a formal complaint.

However, you can find further information on the University’s Complaints procedure on the Student Hub.

Assessment, Feedback and Graduation

I have a forthcoming assessment or deadline, what should I do?

Please work on the basis that the assessment (including practical sessions) is taking place unless informed otherwise.

For example, please submit your coursework by the stated deadline. Work on the assumption that normal penalties will continue to apply to late or the non-submission of coursework or non-attendance. This includes deadlines or sessions falling on planned strike days. You will be notified by your course team if there are changes to scheduling or deadlines.

How will my course be assessed if I have not received the teaching?

Where industrial action has had an impact on scheduled teaching we will ensure no student will be academically disadvantaged in their assessment(s). Our primary focus remains on mitigating the impact of any missed teaching.

We recognise that some courses have particular accreditation requirements: specific issues will be worked through and your course office will advise you. Assessment Boards which make decisions regarding your performance will be aware of any impact the industrial action has had.

Will coursework be marked and feedback provided on time?

Yes, wherever possible the University will seek to continue to meet deadlines for the return of feedback. Where staff have taken industrial action it is possible that feedback may be returned later than you expect. We will do our best through your course office to update you on any delays based on the information we have if this is the case. Your academic team may also update you.

What do I do if I've asked for an extension, but haven't had a response?

If your Module Tutor has not responded to your request for a coursework extension, you should contact your Course Office in writing, including the original request you made to the Module Tutor. You should submit your work as soon as you are able to do so.

Can I make an application to submit extenuating circumstances for the impact the strike action has had on me?

There is no need for you to report the disruption through completion of an Extenuating Circumstances form. The University will have gathered detailed information on how industrial action may have impacted each module. This information will be available to Assessment Boards.

If you have a specific set of individual circumstances which have affected your studies then you should complete an Extenuating Circumstances Form in the usual way. Equally, if you feel your work has been disproportionately impacted by the industrial action in one or more assessments because of your own individual circumstances (e.g. caring responsibilities, medical or other personal problems) then you can also complete a form.

Will the strikes affect my examinations in May/ June 2022 and will Graduations go ahead in Summer 2022?

We are committed to ensuring that students are not academically disadvantaged in their assessments by the strike action. We are seeking to make all reasonable attempts to mitigate against the impact of any missed teaching.

Please also be assured examination papers for modules that are impacted by industrial action will be considered carefully to ensure that content is based on material that has been covered.

Assessment Boards which meet after the assessment period will be responsible for ensuring that no student has been disadvantaged.

We anticipate making no changes at this stage to how we make degree classifications. All graduation ceremonies are expected to go ahead as planned.

If you have any other questions about the Industrial Action please email industrialaction-students@city.ac.uk