Salford Uni Peel Park

Date published: April 13, 2018

A Message from the University to Students: Strike Action

You may be aware that the Universities and College Union (UCU), which represents some employees across the university sector, has voted to take strike action during February and March. This is due to a dispute over pensions. Unfortunately, this is a national dispute, over which the University of Salford has no direct control. We respect the right of our staff to engage in peaceful protest, including strike action, and we know they will not have taken this decision lightly.

Our priority as a University will be to ensure that we do everything we can to minimise disruption to you, our students.

We know that many students may be concerned about what the strike will mean for you. We have put a number of measures in place to minimise impact on you from the strike action. During the strike it is important that you continue to:

  • Attend all lectures and other teaching sessions as normal. If we are informed that a lecturer will be taking part in the strike and we are not able to mitigate this, we will make every effort to contact you and let you know.
  • Submit assignments by the specified deadlines.
  • Attend all scheduled examinations and assessments.

You are our highest priority and we will make every effort to ensure your studies are not unduly disrupted.

We are working closely with the Students’ Union at Salford and we will work together to keep you updated. Our FAQs below provide more information and answers to some of the questions you may have. These FAQs will be regularly updated to ensure that they provide you with the most recent information we have. If you have any other queries, please email askus@salford.ac.uk.

FAQs – last updated on Wednesday 30 May

Why is this industrial action happening?

The industrial action is taking place as part of a dispute over pensions for academic and other groups of staff working within the Higher Education sector who are in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The USS is a national pension scheme with some 400,000 members. There is an estimated £6.1 billion deficit between the value of the scheme's assets, ie what is available in the pension pot, and its liabilities (what it will need to pay in pensions). National representatives of both universities (UUK) and staff (UCU) have negotiated for many months, holding more than 30 meetings to agree a solution.

This is part of a national dispute over which we, the University of Salford, have no direct control.  

When are staff on strike?

The trade union (UCU) has informed universities that staff will strike on the following dates:

  • Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February
  • Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February
  • Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March
  • Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March

You may be aware that UCU held a consultative ballot between Wednesday 4 April and Friday 13 April for their members regarding the latest proposal in relation to the University pensions dispute. The majority of UCU members who responded voted to accept the most recent proposal, so it has been confirmed that the UCU strike action that was planned for 16 - 20 April will not go ahead.

What is strike action?

Those staff who decide to take strike action will not undertake any work on the above dates.

How will I be affected?

If any of your lecturers choose to take part in the industrial action they may refuse to give lectures, invigilate exams, or give you feedback on your work.

The University has put a number of measures in place to minimise any impact on you from the strike action. All students should:

  • Treat each working day as usual.
  • Attend all lectures and other teaching sessions as normal. If we are informed that a lecturer will be taking part in the strike and we are not able to mitigate this, we will make every effort to contact you and let you know.
  • Submit assignments by the specified deadlines.
  • Attend all scheduled examinations and assessments.

We will make every effort to ensure your studies are not unduly disrupted.  

Will my lectures and tutorials go ahead?

The University is working hard to ensure that, as far as possible, teaching and other contact time goes ahead as normal. If we are informed that a lecturer will be taking part in the strike and we are not able to mitigate this, we will make every effort to contact you and let you know.  

Where a lecture or other staff led session has not taken place as planned, every effort will be made to ensure that you have the opportunity to engage with the learning either through rescheduling of the session, via another session or by provision of the learning resources through Blackboard or other appropriate means.

I have assignments due later this semester. What should I do?

You should complete and submit your assignments by the agreed deadline as normal, even if your tutor has told you they will be taking part in the strike. If we feel that learning within a specific module has been disrupted in a manner that impacts upon your ability to complete an assessment, arrangements will be made to amend the submission date as appropriate.

Will my examinations go ahead?

The examination schedule will go ahead as planned, and your exams will take place. We will make every effort to ensure all your examinations are fully and competently staffed.

Will my work still be marked?

Yes, work will still be marked and feedback provided using the same standards and to the same rigour as always. It is possible that, due to the strike action, your feedback may be delayed. We would expect all feedback to be provided within 15 working days of submission, if a member of staff is taking strike action these days would not be counted as working days and the period until you receive marks may therefore be delayed.

The University could invoke Emergency Regulations to ensure that you are not disadvantaged if strike action affected your programme.

You can read more about the Emergency Regulations here.

Will I still be able to graduate or to progress to my next year/level of study?

Yes. All work will be assessed using the same standards as always.

Some courses are subject to professional body requirements e.g. nursing. These are external requirements that we have to make sure we meet. Your programme leader will be able to advise if this applies to you. We will prioritise arrangements for mitigating any content critical to achievement of external accreditation or recognition.

The University could invoke Emergency Regulations to ensure that you are not disadvantaged if strike action affects you or your course.

You can read more about the Emergency Regulations here.

Will I get a refund on my tuition fee?

We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that any learning which is disrupted by the industrial action will be provided by other means or at another time so as to minimise any impact on the overall student experience.

If replacement teaching cannot be provided for your module because of the availabilty of staff and time constraints we will look at alternatives such as the accessiblity of replacement materials, using your regular contact days and the provision of digital online materials. We are also looking at providing additional resource to extend the access hours in key facilities to ensure that support from technicians and other vital resources are available outside of our usual hours.

We will aim to contact you as soon as we are able with more information on the arrangements for this. Given the actions we are taking to minimise disruption, circumstances giving rise to a right to financial compensation are unlikely to arise.

What will happen to the pay deducted from staff who were on strike?

The savings that have been made will be reallocated into activities that will directly benefit the student experience. This work is already underway and areas that will benefit from the additional funding include: financial hardship funds for students, enhancement of student support services across campus and via the Students’ Union, student employability and skills for life, the ‘Good Night Out’ initiative (safety, assault and harassment), student consultation and support for methods of engaging with student voice.

Lectures and tutorials, whilst an important part of your learning, represent just one strand of the whole experience and all other resources, for example our library, computing services and other learning environments and services will be available as normal throughout the period to enable you to continue your studies and independent learning. You will also be aware that not all lecturing staff are on strike and that there are other staff who may be able to help and support you with specific queries. This all means that many of our overhead costs will remain in place.

What should I do if I feel my studies are affected?

We know that this is a worrying and uncertain time, but we are committed to ensuring that any disruption to your learning is minimised as far as possible. If planned activity does not take place due to the strike action, we will make every effort to provide you with appropriate alternative learning opportunities.

Whilst the strike action is continuing it is difficult to determine the specific impact upon your studies. It may therefore take a little time to put in place all necessary remediation and we would ask that you bear with us whilst we make these arrangements. We thank you for your patience at this time.

If you feel there has been a specific impact on your studies as a result of the strike action, please speak to your School in the first instance so that they can explain the steps being taken to address this. If, once your School has had the opportunity to put in place alternative provision, you still believe that you have been adversely affected then you may wish to raise this with the School as a Stage One complaint. We will only consider complaints submitted with evidence of a specific impact on learning once mitigating action has been put in place by the School.

If, following the internal complaints process, you are unhappy with the outcome then additional steps can be taken through the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). The complaint can only be taken to the OIA after the internal complaints process has been followed. This gives us the opportunity to try to resolve the complaint internally. Additional information about the OIA can be found here.

Will the strike action impact on my assessment?

We are aware that where strike action has impacted upon the delivery of a module you may be anxious about how this will affect your assessment. We are working to create specific plans for each affected module and will communicate these to you at the earliest opportunity after the end of the strike. Any adjustments to assessment will take account of the impact of any delay in delivery of content, access to support, preparation time and scheduling of other scheduled assessments.

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