University strikes: who is striking, why are lecturers striking, what are the dates of the strikes?

UCU members will stage three days of strike action in November

Thousands of university lecturers are stagging the “biggest ever” walkouts in protest over pay, pension cuts and conditions.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will be striking three times over the next week. The first day of strike action has already taken place.

It is the latest in the widespread series of strikes taking place in industries across the country, as the cost of living crisis continues to bite. Further rail strikes have been announced for December.

Picket lines were mounted outside postal delivery and sorting offices, universities and schools on Thursday (24 November) as unions edge closer to co-ordinated industrial action. A series of postal strikes are also planned in December, including Christmas Eve, in one of the longest-running disputes of a year dominated by stoppages.

The university strikes are set to continue over the coming week. Here is all you need to know:

What are the dates for University strikes?

Around 70,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) will strike on the following dates:

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

It is the biggest strike of its kind, affecting an estimated 2.5 million students. The union has warned of escalated action in the new year if the row is not resolved.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: University of Liverpool staff and supporting students take part in a rally as strike action hits universities on November 24, 2022 in Liverpool, England. Staff at 150 universities across the UK are participating in a series of strikes over pay, working conditions and pension cuts. The strikes are scheduled for November 24, 25 and 30. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Who is going on strike?

University lecturers, who are members of UCU, are taking to the picket line. They are joining teachers and postal workers who are all striking on 24 November.

Picket lines were also mounted outside postal delivery and sorting offices, universities and schools. It is one of the biggest walkouts of the year.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) also went on strike on Thursday. It was the first national strike over pay for almost 40 years, with the action by teachers expected to close the majority of schools across Scotland.

Why are lecturers going on strike?

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “University staff are taking the biggest strike action in the history of higher education. They have had enough of falling pay, pension cuts and gig economy working conditions – all whilst vice-chancellors enjoy lottery-win salaries and live it up in their grace and favour mansions.

“Staff are burnt out, but they are fighting back and they will bring the whole sector to a standstill. Vice-chancellors only have themselves to blame. Their woeful leadership has led to the biggest vote for strike action ever in our sector.

“Students are standing with staff because they know this can’t go on, and they know that a sector which generates tens of billions of pounds each year from tuition fees can afford to treat its staff fairly. Further disruption can be avoided if the concerns of staff are addressed with urgency. But the overpaid vice-chancellors killing our sector should be under no illusion – 70,000 dedicated university workers are ready to take even bigger action in the new year.”

How have students reacted?

Chloe Field, National Union of Students vice president for higher education, said: “Students stand in solidarity with university staff going on strike. We have always been clear that staff working conditions are students’ learning conditions, and for more than a decade both have come under attack from a sector that puts profits above education.”