This is to provide you with further information in relation to the planned industrial action and how this will affect your studies.
The University and College Union (UCU) has asked its members to take industrial action. This is a national dispute which centres on proposals to make changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU opposes the proposed change to the USS, and is asking members to take part in a series of strikes, commenced on Thursday 22 February and subsequently on the following dates.
- Week Four: Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March 2018 (five days)
As this is a national dispute involving hundreds of higher and further education employers, the University of Manchester is not free to resolve this dispute on its own, or with its own staff. Negotiations took place at UK level between Universities UK, who represent all the employers, and UCU, the union representing some of our staff. The UCU has approximately 2,000 members at the University from a total of 12,000 employees.
How industrial action might affect your studies
While the University aims to minimise the impact of the industrial action on students, it also recognises the rights of individual members of staff to take industrial action. You should work on the basis that your studies will continue as normal, unless you are told otherwise. This means that you should attend scheduled teaching, complete and submit assessments by the relevant deadlines, and continue to plan for any examinations.
The industrial action means that some staff may decide not to work on designated strike days. This means that they may not take part in delivery of teaching (e.g. lectures, seminars, tutorials, laboratory sessions and fieldwork), or undertake marking or provision of feedback. Other staff within your School may also be UCU members and so may be unavailable during the strike action.
However not all staff are members of UCU and at this stage we do not know how many staff will participate in the industrial action, nor how widespread the impact of this action will be. We anticipate that the impact of the action will vary considerably, with some areas experiencing less impact than others.
It is important to note that the University will be open as usual during the action and academic and support activities will continue to operate as normal.
The University has been working hard to prepare for this action and will seek to ensure that the impact on students is minimised while at the same time maintaining high academic standards.
You should continue to attend scheduled teaching unless you have been informed by your School that it is not taking place.
The University will not benefit from strike pay deducted from staff and will use it to the benefit of students.
Where you have been set coursework, you should work towards submitting this on time, as usual, and work on the assumption that normal penalties will continue to apply to late or non-submission of coursework. This includes deadlines falling on planned strike days.
Assessment and Examinations
Where scheduled teaching time is cancelled, steps will be taken to ensure that subsequent assessment for the affected units takes this into account. Boards of Examiners who make decisions regarding your performance will be aware of any impact the industrial action has had upon your learning, assessment and feedback, and will be able to take this into account when deciding upon your results.
Where cancellation of teaching or delays in returning marks and providing feedback may affect your ability to prepare for your next coursework assignment, examination or another form of assessment, the School will provide the Board of Examiners with the relevant information to enable it to take account of the disruption when determining your results. There is no need for you to report the disruption to a member of staff or complete a Mitigating Circumstances form for this specific purpose.
If you have scheduled exams, you should continue to prepare for these and attend them as directed. Since the strikes are scheduled to run until 16 March 2018, there is no reason at this time to expect the main examination period (16 May 2018 to 6 June 2018) to be affected.
Schools will continue to meet published deadlines for return of feedback to students wherever possible. However, the industrial action may mean that some feedback is returned later than expected. The University has however asked all Schools to prioritise teaching and assessment activities over other work where possible, in order to minimise any delays.
Where your scheduled teaching events are going ahead as planned, you are expected to attend as usual.
Students can be reassured that the purpose of any picket line is to pass on information in a peaceful manner about the reason for strike action. A picket line should be comprised of a maximum of six people and we expect all pickets to behave in a respectful way to students attending their studies.
Tier 4 students
If you are attending the University on a Tier 4 student visa you may be worried that you may not be able to meet all the required contact/engagement points for your visa.
As long as you continue to attend all contact and engagement points wherever possible, your visa status will be unaffected by the industrial action. In the event that the industrial action leads to some of your engagement points being cancelled, your School will put alternative engagement points in place.
Postgraduate research students should work on the basis that the viva (oral examination) or annual progression review meeting will go ahead as planned, and submit your thesis on schedule. If your viva is scheduled to take place during the period of planned strike action and you wish to confirm whether the industrial action is likely to affect your viva, you should contact your supervisor or your School’s Administration Office.
Students undertaking supervised research
All students undertaking supervised research must continue to observe existing protocols including health and safety procedures. If strike action raises concerns for your research work you must seek permission to continue from your Supervisor or if unavailable your Head of School.
Graduations and progression
All of our graduation ceremonies are scheduled and will go ahead as planned in the summer.
We expect all eligible students to be able to graduate as planned and continuing students to be informed of their progression status. We will continue to review the situation as it develops. The University will ensure that eligible students are able to graduate or progress to the next year of study.
Minimising disruption and impact
We will consider the impact and consequences of the industrial action for each student retrospectively. Since we charge a composite fee for our courses we cannot reimburse individual students for specific elements of missed teaching and assessment. However, our experience suggests that the impact of this industrial action will vary in different parts of the University, and each School will be looking at how to minimise any disruption during the strike period.
If you can’t contact your Personal and/or Academic Advisor or Supervisor during the industrial action please contact your School Office.
While the industrial action means that some staff may decide not to work on designated strike days the University is open for business as usual. This means that all the normal support services will be available.