London universities to be hit with five days of strikes at the start of term

This comes as marking and assessment boycotts just ended


Members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) at 30 London universities will strike for five days at the end of September as freshers and returning students arrive on campuses for the start of term.

The strikes, which will last from Monday 25th to Friday 29th September, are part of the union’s long-standing dispute with university employers over pay and working conditions. 

In addition, participating UCU staff will continue their ongoing action short of a strike (ASOS), which will see them working strictly to contract and not taking on any voluntary and extra tasks, such as rescheduling classes missed during strikes.

The announcement came as the union just withdrew its months-long marking and assessment boycotts that disrupted summer finals and graduations yesterday.

The UCU represents academic staff like lecturers and tutors at UK universities and colleges. Over the past few years, it has called numerous strikes, ASOS, and marking boycotts over two disputes with their employers: one for better pay and working conditions and the other against cuts to pensions and benefits.

The five days of strikes at the end of this month, the marking boycotts over the summer, and the ongoing ASOS affect universities involved in the pay and working conditions dispute. Notably, Imperial College London will not be impacted by the upcoming strikes nor any ASOS as its UCU branch is only involved in the pensions dispute.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the union is “left with no option but to strike” due to its lack of progress in combating low pay, “gig-economy employment practices,” and high workloads. 

“We have sought to settle this dispute at every opportunity, including agreeing to a joint review of sector finances, but we are faced with employers that want to see staff and students suffer. We desperately hope vice-chancellors realise we are going nowhere without a fair settlement and make us a realistic offer,” she said.

The union is also re-balloting members to renew a nationwide mandate for industrial actions over pay and working conditions. The ballot results will decide whether UCU can “escalate the dispute by taking further action this year and into 2024.”

The 30 London universities impacted by the upcoming strikes are:

  1. Birkbeck, University of London
  2. Brunel University
  3. City, University of London
  4. Courtauld Institute of Art
  5. East London, University of
  6. Goldsmiths, University of London
  7. Greenwich, University of
  8. King’s College London
  9. Kingston University
  10. London Metropolitan University
  11. London School of Economics
  12. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  13. London South Bank University
  14. Middlesex University
  15. Queen Mary, University of London
  16. Roehampton University
  17. Royal Academy of Music
  18. Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  19. Royal College of Art
  20. Royal College of Music
  21. Royal Holloway, University of London
  22. Royal Veterinary College, University of London
  23. Senate House, University of London
  24. SOAS, University of London
  25. St George’s, University of London
  26. St Mary’s University, Twickenham
  27. University College London
  28. University of the Arts London
  29. West London, University of
  30. Westminster, University of

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• Students can sue UCL for compensation for Covid and strike disruptions, judge rules