UCU Industrial action - information for students

A period of industrial action began in November 2019. We've put together some questions and answers you may have about how you might be affected.

Updated: 22 November 2019, 5.30pm

The University and College Union (UCU) announced industrial action at 60 universities over pay and pensions. The following applies at Leeds:

1) Strike action took place on 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 November and 2, 3, 4 December 2019.

2) Action short of a strike is taking place from 25 November 2019 continuously until no later than 29 April 2020. This will mean that staff who are taking part in industrial action are:

  • 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 result of strike action
  • not undertaking voluntary activities

Our priority throughout this time is to minimise any disruption to students. We will do all that we can to recover missed learning opportunities.

What do you need to do during the industrial action?

  • Attend all sessions that have been rescheduled after the strike period.
  • Check with your supervisor or head of school whether you have approval to continue or start research projects, particularly laboratory and fieldwork. This is essential for health and safety reasons.
  • Check your University email and Minerva very regularly to make sure you have up-to-date information about any rescheduled sessions and activities.
  • If you have further questions please check with your school or speak to Leeds University Union Advice.

What is happening?

What is industrial action?

Industrial action happens when trade union members are in a dispute with their employers that can’t be solved through negotiations. This may involve some workers refusing to work (going on strike) or stopping some aspects of their work (action short of a strike) for a period of time.

Who is taking part in industrial action?

The UCU represents academic and professional and managerial staff. Some postgraduates are also members of the UCU. We know that only a minority of the academic, professional and managerial staff are members of the UCU and we don't expect all members of the UCU to take part in industrial action.

How will it affect me?

How will the industrial action affect me?

Only a minority of our staff are members of the UCU. Some of them might not have gone on strike at all, while others might not have gone on strike for all eight days. Some activities were cancelled during the strike period and we are doing all we can to minimise any disruption this might have caused.

Your school will be the best source of information about rescheduled activities and and will do what it can to keep you updated. We encourage you to speak to the school’s student support /taught student office if you have any questions.

What do I do about the learning opportunities I have missed due to the strike?

Your school should let you know about the plans to deliver any missed learning opportunities. This may or may not be through rescheduled teaching activities, depending on your school. The plans may not be in place prior to the assessment on your module. Your assessments will be based on learning activity delivered.

I’m a postgraduate researcher. How will the industrial action affect me? Where do I look for information?

In the first instance, you should talk to your supervisor, who should be able to advise you what impact, if any, the industrial action will have on your work.  Otherwise, you can approach your graduate school or the Doctoral College.  You may also approach the Advice Centre in Leeds University Union

I’m due to be going on a field trip during the industrial action. Will it be going ahead?

Your school will be able to advise you on this.

Can I carry out laboratory work during the industrial action?

You should not under any circumstances continue (or start) research projects (particularly laboratory and fieldwork) during the industrial action unless your supervisor or head of school has confirmed that adequate arrangements are in place to ensure the protection of your health and safety. If in doubt, consult your supervisor or the student support office in your school.

What if my coursework deadline is during the industrial action?

You should submit your work in the usual way on the date specified, unless you are notified otherwise. If you have any concerns about this please contact your school.

What if I can’t complete my assignment because my teaching is incomplete as a result of the strike?

Each school is taking steps to ensure that students are assessed based on the learning activities that have been delivered. You should complete your assignment based on the learning activities that have been delivered.

Will my exams be affected?

You will be examined on the learning activities that have been delivered.

Will my attendance record be affected as a result of cancelled teaching activities?

Your attendance record will not be affected as you are not held responsible for cancelled activities. You are expected to attend as normal unless you have been told in advance of any cancelled activities. You should also attend any rescheduled activities and continue to do your coursework/reading etc. throughout the strike period and industrial action. These activities are likely to run into the last week of term (ending 13 December 2019).

The Home Office has told institutions that the industrial action will have no impact on your attendance record for immigration purposes if you are a Tier 4 student visa holder.

Will I get a refund for any cancelled teaching activities?

We can’t answer questions about fee reimbursement at this stage. We do not believe you will be academically disadvantaged by the industrial action.

What if I want to make a complaint?

We are working to ensure that you will not be disadvantaged academically by the industrial action, and that plans are made to deliver any missed learning opportunities. We hope that you will resolve any concerns with your school in the first instance, however, if you remain disatisfied, please send them by email to studentcomplaints@leeds.ac.uk. We will then provide you with further information about how to make a complaint.

Where can I go for support? Are services running as normal?

Are the libraries and other services still open?

Libraries, computer clusters and other services are still available during the industrial action. For opening times, please check individual websites (libraries, careers service, LUU, support and wellbeing, The Edge).

Are Disability Services open?

If you have questions about 1-1 support from Disability Services or experience any unexpected changes or difficulties regarding your support during this period, please contact the Support Worker Team by emailing supportworkerteam@adm.leeds.ac.uk  or calling +44 (0)113 343 3927.

For any other questions, students are advised to e-mail disability@leeds.ac.uk, call+44 (0)113 343 3927, or drop in to Disability Services.

Are Student Counselling and Wellbeing appointments still taking place?

Yes, student counselling and wellbeing appointments are taking place as normal.

Where do I go if I need support?

You may speak to your personal tutor (if available), the student support team in your school or the Advice Team in the Leeds University Union. The student counselling service will be operating normally.

What happens next and when will I know that the industrial action has ended?  Will it happen again?

Strike action ended on Wednesday 4 December 2019 and we have not been notified of any plans for further strike days beyond this date. We will keep you up to date if there are any changes to this.

Action short of a strike is taking place from 25 November 2019 continuously until no later than 29 April 2020. This will mean that staff who are taking part in industrial action are:

  • 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 result of strike action
  • not undertaking voluntary activities

What is the university doing about it?

Our priority throughout this time is to minimise any disruption to students and to ensure we continue to communicate with colleagues about the issues at the heart of this action. You can read information on our For Staff website about:

We will keep this page up to date with the latest information we have. When there is significant news to update you on, we’ll include this in our fortnightly Life at Leeds newsletter. For information about the impact on your individual timetable, you should contact your school, who will do their best to advise you.

What communications have been sent to students