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UCU Industrial Action: a message from the President and Vice-Chancellor

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I have received many emails from students about the current industrial action by University and College Union members. I have read all of these and hope you have had responses (if not you will do soon).

I want to reassure you that we are working hard to mitigate any loss of teaching you may have experienced, and the University’s joint statement with the Students’ Union identifies this as a shared priority. With this in mind, we will be carrying out a review to work out exactly which units have been affected, and how significantly in each case. I have asked that staff prioritise making up lost teaching as the strike comes to an end, and this will be an important element of my regular message to staff this week; though I do note that some will still be taking action short of a strike.

I am concerned that many messages are from students worried that most of our staff are on fixed term ‘precarious contracts’, when this is NOT the case. It is true that our PhD students are now on staff contracts as opposed to being treated as casual staff, which both we and the unions see as a benefit. PhD students are always on a defined length of contract for the duration of their PhD. Apart from PhD students, virtually all other staff on fixed term contracts are research staff on external funding of finite duration. We very rarely use ‘zero hours contracts’.

As you will be aware, pay and pensions are nationally negotiated issues and we are in regular contact with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association and Universities UK to try and find a solution that bring the disputes to an end.

We value both our staff and our students greatly, and so it is very important to me that you have the correct information.

We will of course continue to keep you updated on developments.

Best wishes

Nancy Rothwell

President and Vice-Chancellor

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