Industrial action

Monday 30 January 2023

In an email to all sudents and staff today (Monday 30 January 2023), the Proctor outlined upcoming UCU strike action at the University.

Dear Students

cc University Staff

As you may already know, members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 150 universities in the UK, including St Andrews, have voted to take industrial action in respect of two separate national disputes on pay and pensions.

UCU has announced a total of 18 days of non-consecutive strike action beginning nationally on Wednesday 1 February.

The additional 17 days, agreed by local UCU branches, will fall on dates throughout February and March.

UCU St Andrews have confirmed the local strike dates as:

  • 9 – 10 February
  • 14 – 16 February
  • 21 – 23 February
  • 27 February – 2 March
  • 16 – 17 March
  • 20 – 22 March

All dates are inclusive.

The UCU have also called on their members to take action short of a strike (ASOS), continuously throughout February and March. This may include working to rule, not making up work lost as a result of strike action, and not covering for absent colleagues.

These are national disputes which can only be resolved by negotiation at a national level. Universities cannot negotiate their own settlements locally. In St Andrews, we have consistently called for national settlements which are fair to staff and sustainable for institutions, and this will continue to be our position.

We acknowledge the right of UCU members to take industrial action, their concerns about pay and pensions, and the fact that those who choose to take action in St Andrews will do so with a heavy heart. Not all St Andrews staff are UCU members and not all UCU members in St Andrews will necessarily take industrial action. The University has more than 2000 staff, approximately 600 of whom are members of UCU. In St Andrews, we are a community which cares deeply about our students as well as our staff and naturally we hope that disruption to you, our students, will be minimised.

The briefing below provides updates on how teaching may be affected, and the steps that will be taken to mitigate the impact on you and your education. Another email will be sent to all students should there be any changes to the action called by UCU.

With kind regards

Professor Clare Peddie
Vice-Principal Education (Proctor)
University of St Andrews


When are the strike days?

  • 1 February
  • 9 – 10 February
  • 14 – 16 February
  • 21 – 23 February
  • 27 February – 2 March
  • 16 – 17 March
  • 20 – 22 March

What is action short of a strike?
Action short of a strike (ASOS) will take effect from Wednesday 1 February. The current ASOS mandate from UCU involves: only working to contract; not undertaking any voluntary activities; not covering for absent colleagues; removing uploaded materials and/or not sharing materials related to lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled because of strike action; and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action.

What is a strike?
UCU members who are taking strike action will not work on the strike days. As is normal practice in these circumstances, the University will withhold pay from UCU members for each day of strike action taken. 100% of pay withheld will be used to support student welfare. The University does not stand to gain financially from industrial action.

How will I know if my classes are to be cancelled?
Staff are not obliged to inform anyone in advance if they are taking action, therefore classes on the strike days may be cancelled at short notice. Staff may decide not to respond to emails on strike days.

How widespread is the UCU action likely to be in St Andrews?
Normally only UCU members take part in action. Only a proportion of academic, professional, and managerial staff at St Andrews are members of UCU.

What about submission of continuous assessment during the strike dates?
Unless you are contacted by your School to inform you otherwise all submission deadlines for items of continuous assessment will still apply. If, for any reason, you wish to request an extension and your Module Coordinator is not available on the strike days please contact your Director of Teaching or Head of School.

Will exam marking be affected by the industrial action?
We currently expect that all exam marking and reporting of results from Semester 2 modules will be completed.

What about examination questions on content that has been missed?
Your School will work with the Examinations Office to ensure that module examinations will not assess content that has been missed due to the strike action.

Will the library and other learning facilities remain open during the strike?
Yes, the library and all learning facilities will remain open throughout the strike.

Am I able to cross a picket line?
You may encounter a picket line at the entrances to some buildings; picketing should be peaceful, respectful, and non-threatening. Whilst pickets can ask you not to cross the picket line, students and staff will not be prevented from entering buildings.

What do I do if I have a question about teaching?
Students should contact their School Office or module coordinator in the first instance who can answer any queries related to your course and subjects. The Advice and Support Centre (ASC) is also available should you have any issues or concerns. The ASC can provide guidance and wellbeing support.

What is being done to support students?
We will ask all Heads of Schools and Units to take all reasonable steps to mitigate the impact of the action on students. We will remind all colleagues that all assessment, both examinations and continuous assessment, must be fair and flexible.

Guidance for students is also available through the Students’ Association. The Students’ Association passed a motion to officially support the UCU’s industrial action back in November. The motion covers the industrial action period agreed upon by the UCU ballot, which expires on 1 April 2023.

We will work with the Students’ Association representatives so that they too can address any concerns or questions students may have about the action.

Category Student experience

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