Strike action information for students

The University and College Union (UCU) which represents some members of staff at USW has informed the University that their members intend to take industrial action, which consists of strike action on:

  • Thursday 24 November
  • Friday 25 November 
  • Wednesday 30 November 

UCU is also asking its members to take continuous action short of a strike, from Wednesday 23 November.

This industrial action is taking place in 150 universities across the UK.  


About the Industrial Action 

The University and College Union (UCU), which represents some members of staff at USW, is taking industrial action (including strikes and actions short of a strike). Not all members of academic staff at USW are UCU members and therefore not all activity will be affected.  

This strike action relates to a continuing national dispute relating to the outcome of the 2022/23 pay negotiations.  

Strike action means that some people will refuse to work. Members of staff who take part in the strike action will not perform their usual duties and will not work on those days. This may mean that learning and teaching activities may not go ahead as planned, emails will not be answered, marking and administrative activities may not be undertaken on the strike days, by those who are taking part in the strike action. Not all university business will be affected as not all staff will be taking part in the strike action. 

Staff who are striking may form picket lines (generally no more than six) at the entrances to some of our sites, to explain to people why they are on strike. You will not be prevented from entering any of the campuses and are encouraged to continue to attend our campuses as usual.

Action short of strike is when staff take other action – UCU has confirmed that this will consist of staff only working their contracted hours and duties and not volunteering to do more.  

The University will be open as usual on days when strike action is being taken. Not all staff will be taking part in the strike action, therefore you should still attend your timetabled sessions, unless you are notified by the university that your session is affected. However, as individual staff who are taking part in the strike action do not have to give the University advanced notice, there may be some sessions that do not go ahead at short notice.  You will be advised on any impacted learning through the usual communication channels used by your teaching team (e.g. Blackboard, emails, teams etc.). 

If any of your timetabled sessions are affected, you are still encouraged to come to site to make use of the libraries and other university facilities for group or individual study. 

We appreciate that this may cause uncertainty and anxiety for you, and we will do what we can to mitigate the impact the strike action has on your student experience. 

Teaching and Assessment 

The University will endeavour to let you know if a timetabled session is affected. However, individual staff who are taking part in the strike action do not have to give the University advanced notice. Whilst we will try our best to let you know as soon as possible if a session is affected, there may be a possibility that a session has to be rearranged at short notice. You will be advised on any impacted learning through the usual communication channels used by your teaching team (e.g. Blackboard, emails, teams etc.).

If any of your timetabled sessions are affected, you are still encouraged to come to site to make use of the libraries and other university facilities for group or individual study. 

We appreciate that this may cause uncertainty and anxiety for you, and we will do what we can to mitigate the impact the strike action has on your student experience. 

If your timetabled session(s) is affected, you will receive information from your teaching team about any alternative arrangements.

The normal process for monitoring attendance will be in place for all timetabled sessions that continue on the days where there is strike action. If a session does not go ahead, as a result of a member of staff being on strike action, then the attendance monitoring will be suspended for that session.  

If a scheduled exam falls on the day of planned strike action, you should assume it will go ahead and you should attend as usual.  

Where the strike action affects planned teaching or assessment sessions, adjustments will be made by your teaching team to related assessment deadlines and module leaders will have the authority to apply assessment extensions as appropriate. You will not need to request these individually.

Where the strike action affects teaching, your teaching team will make adjustments and endeavour to ensure missed teaching is rescheduled or provided through alternative routes.  If, for any reason, this is not possible due to the fixed timing of assessments, then adjustments will be made to assessment briefs or exams in recognition of this. 

Marking and feedback might be a little delayed due to industrial action. Based on the current notification of planned action from the Union, we do not anticipate formal results being affected, although we will keep this under review in the event of any further action, and keep you informed.

For most students there should be no need to submit a request for extenuating circumstances because of the industrial action. An arrangement has been put into place within the Extenuating Circumstances Regulation and Procedures to enable module leaders to determine the impact on the module, and where appropriate to authorise cohort extensions to assessments. However, if you have specific individual circumstances which affected your studies, you can submit an extenuating circumstances form in the usual way. 

Not all staff will be taking strike action, and supervision meetings scheduled on strike days may go ahead as normal. However, staff who are taking part in the strike action do not have to give the University advanced notice. For scheduled supervision meetings, it is a good idea to check with your supervisors whether the meetings will go ahead as planned. Feedback on work might be a little delayed due to industrial action. 

Viva examinations scheduled on strike days may be affected; it is noted that examination teams consist of one or more examiners external to the institution, as well as an examiner and a Chair employed by the University. Candidates expecting a viva examination on a strike day should contact their supervisors and the Graduate School for updates on arrangements. It is expected that viva examinations not scheduled on strike days will take place as scheduled, but it is noted that the review of submitted work, including the review of amendments of work post viva, might also be delayed. 

Research activity that makes use of specialist facilities is expected to take place as normal, but for activity that includes oversight or training by academic staff you are encouraged to check whether activities will go ahead on strike days.

Further information 

We appreciate that the strike action may cause uncertainty and anxiety and we will do what we can to mitigate the impact the strike action has on your student experience. 

All of the University’s support services can be accessed through the University’s Advice Zone.

The impact of the industrial action will be variable across the University. Whilst there may be some teaching or assessments affected, your teaching teams will be putting alternative arrangements in place to compensate for any missed teaching to enable you to catch up with your learning, or, in a very few cases, adapt assessments. 

If you have any further queries about the industrial action, you can speak to your teaching team and the Advice Zone, or for postgraduate researchers, your supervision team.