This is how the UCU strike will impact London students

Here is everything you need to know


Across the UK, university staff who are UCU members are going on strike in protest against poor pay and pension cuts from December 1st-3rd. This means that classes will be cancelled for students as professors picket outside their respective universities. 

The UCU is also holding “action short of strike” (ASOS) until no later than 22 May of next year, during which staff involved will fulfil only their contracted responsibilities and will not be volunteering for extra work. 

These leave students with many questions and uncertainties, so here is our guide on everything you need to know about how strikes will impact you.

Missed classes

Students might miss classes during the December strikes, meaning that some course content will go uncovered. Lecturers who are striking are not required to make up for lost hours or cover missed content, but they can hold make-up sessions at their own discretion. 

You will not be penalised for missing class during the strike period if you don’t want to cross staff’s picket lines. The same goes for Tier 4 visa holders – it is assumed you will be “engaged in academic activities outside of class.”

Luckily, missed content will not be assessed. If you do choose to write about them in an essay, professors will also take into account that you’ve never been formally taught.

Libraries, support services, and offices

Libraries, support services, and offices may be closed or short-staffed as some staff are UCU members. Opening hours can change at short notice, so you may want to ask beforehand – it’s not taboo! But classroom spaces will remain booked at your classes’ usual times, and most Students’ Unions’ spaces will remain open. For example, as Students’ Union UCL opted not to support the strike, all of their venues – gyms, cafes, bars, and clubs – should be running as normal.

Coursework deadlines

There will be no changes to end-of-term coursework deadlines despite the strike, so be sure to make the most of student support hours available if you need any help. If you’re waiting for in-person assignment feedback sessions, professors are still aiming to get it back to you as soon as possible but expect slight delays. 

Communication

If they choose to strike, teaching staff, such as module tutors and personal tutors, will not reply to emails nor hold office hours from December 1st -3rd. They may also not reply to emails sent during this period, so it’s your best bet to reach them before or after these dates.

Lecturers don’t have to tell you if they are going on strike, but most will notify you in advance. If you’re unsure, you are more than welcome to ask them. Also, keep an eye on any online platforms, such as Moodle and email, for the latest updates to teaching hours. Departments tend to have an urgent contact if you face any problems during the strike period, so find out who yours is.

Picketing

Staff will be picketing outside of university campuses. The atmosphere is often pleasant and welcoming, and they are legally not allowed to block you if you insist on going in.

Many Students’ Unions and some universities, such as KCL and UCL, are expected to do the share further information and support resources for students impacted by the strikes. Universities’ student wellbeing services, like UCL’s Student Support and Wellbeing team, are also available for students whose mental health is affected by the industrial action.

Remember: the strike is not directed at you, and both the universities and participating staff are doing their best to minimise any impact on you.

What can I do if I want to support the strike?

The strikers are protesting regulations of Universities UK – a representative body of UK unis – and are forfeiting their pay during the strike period, so many students might choose to support them for workplace rights.

Here are some ways they can do so: try not to go into the campus past the protesting staff, attend “teach-outs” by lecturers in public spaces if available, and possibly joining the picket lines – but it’s within the staff’s right to ask you to leave, so be respectful and leave peacefully if they do.

If you have any unanswered questions, first contact your department. If they too cannot answer it, UCL students can contact [email protected].uk.

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