Industrial Action 2023
Updates and information for students on industrial action at the University.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted to take strike action on:
- Wednesday 15 – Friday 17 March
- Monday 20 – Wednesday 22 March
Action short of a strike has been continuous and effective from 23 November 2022. This includes UCU members working to contractual hours and duties only and not volunteering to do more; not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action; not covering for absent colleagues; removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action.
While any strike action will naturally have an impact on the University’s operations, please be aware that not all staff will be taking part in the action and we will aim to keep disruption to you to a minimum.
Reasons for the industrial action
This action is due to the University and College Union’s (UCU) disputes over pay, working conditions and pension cuts.
You can read more about the UCU position on the University and College Union website:
The University of Edinburgh, working alongside Universities UK (UUK) – which represents around 150 universities across the UK – is continuing to engage with UCU on the USS dispute. We hope that the sector and UCU can resolve the dispute without the need for further industrial action.
We want to minimise the impact on you as much as possible and will work to limit significant disruption to the delivery of learning and teaching, assessment, progression and student experience, whilst maintaining academic standards.
Guidance for students
Below, you will find further advice and guidance to support you during the industrial action. As preparations continue, we will add further information and will regularly update you.
If there is strike action, some of your classes and scheduled teaching activities may be cancelled, but other classes and activities may not. You should attend all teaching and assessment activity that does take place.
Although we can ask staff if they plan to take action, staff are not required to tell us in advance, so at present there is not enough information to allow your School to confirm how strike action will affect you.
If any of your scheduled teaching time is cancelled, you should use available course resources (for example, resources on Learn, course reading lists) to continue your learning for your courses.
Where the industrial action means that some teaching has been cancelled, your School will ensure that any subsequent assessment you take (i.e. coursework, exams etc.) does not test you on content that has not been adequately covered.
For some courses, attendance and participation in classes contributes to the overall assessment for the course, and some students will have other assessment activities such as presentations scheduled during the period of industrial action. If your classes are running, you are expected to attend these as normal, and no alternative teaching or assessments will be offered in these circumstances.
If you choose not to attend a class because of strike action, and attendance is recorded, you will be marked as absent.
Please remember that if you have a student visa you are required to demonstrate regular engagement with your studies as a condition of your visa. If you choose not to attend a class because of strike action and miss teaching or assessment activities as a result, you should continue to engage with your studies more broadly to ensure there is no impact to your visa. Your School can advise you on how engagement is monitored.
If you do not receive a response from your Student Adviser or Personal Tutor during the period of industrial action, you should contact the Student Advisers team or Graduate School office within your School. As there may be fewer staff working than usual, there may be delays in responding to your enquiry, but staff will work to prioritise and respond to these as soon as possible.
Our EdHelp team will also be available if you have any questions.
You should work on the basis that dissertation meetings will go ahead as planned, and prepare to attend these. However, you should contact your dissertation Supervisor to confirm.
Please be assured that Boards of Examiners who consider dissertation results will be given detailed information about the impact of any disruption to your dissertation supervision, so that they can take this into account when deciding your results.
Using University buildings, our libraries and support services (e.g. counselling, financial support)
During the industrial action, the University will remain open as usual. You will be able to continue to access the library and all of our support services, although there may be delays in some areas.
Many academic activities will continue to operate as normal, although some areas may be functioning with fewer staff.
The University, in line with its terms and conditions (section 15.4), will not be offering tuition fee refunds for cancelled classes or teaching time.
The University will however seek to offer support to students who will be affected by the strike. These include the mitigating steps the University has put in place to ensure that students are not disadvantaged in exams, dissertations or in progressing to the next year.
Some classes may be affected by the strike and we understand that this will cause disruption and possibly concern. As in previous years, to support your learning we have established a Learning Opportunity Fund from pay foregone by staff that choose to strike. If your classes are impacted by strike action, you will be able to apply for a payment of up to £350 from this fund in recognition of significant disruption. The impacted days are currently:
- 24 - 28 November 2022
- 1, 9, 10 and 14 February 2023
- 15 – 17 March and 20 – 22 March 2023
You should not apply to this fund on the basis of future strike action or strike days which have not affected your classes.
The Learning Opportunity Fund can be used to pay for learning opportunities of most kinds, including conferences, short courses, online courses and part-payment of longer or more expensive learning opportunities.
Further information can be found on the Learning Opportunity Fund webpage.
Exams and assessment
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.
Schools will take steps to ensure that exam questions accurately reflect the content delivered during the teaching semester.
If any exam paper contains a question on material not delivered due to strike action this will be brought to the attention of the Board of Examiners in order that it can take these circumstances into consideration.
Boards of Examiners who decide upon results have a responsibility to ensure that students have a fair opportunity to demonstrate performance against the learning outcomes. Marks for exams and assessment go through a moderation process to ensure that they are a fair reflection of students’ abilities. Please be assured that Boards of Examiners who consider your course and programme results will be given detailed information about the impact of any disruption to each of your courses, so that they can take this into account when deciding your results and making decisions on your progression and degree award.
Please be assured that Boards of Examiners who consider your course and programme results will be given detailed information about the impact of any disruption to each of your courses, so that they can take this into account when deciding your results.
You do not need to use the special circumstances process if your learning was disrupted due to the strike action. If however you have a unique personal circumstances you wish to make the Board aware of, you should follow the Special Circumstances Procedure.
The Extensions and Special Circumstances (ESC) service will continue to operate during the period of industrial action. If you need to request a coursework extension, you should use this service as usual.
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.
The University is working to minimise any potential impact of the industrial action on those who would be expecting to graduate, and we expect all eligible students to be able to graduate as planned.
Exchanges and placements
The industrial action is unlikely to have any impact on your studies at your host institution. However, if you require support from your Exchange Coordinator, Student Adviser or Personal Tutor at the University of Edinburgh and they are participating in the industrial action, there may be a delay in their response. If this is the case, we advise that you get in touch with your contact in the Study and Work Away Service.
There may be delays for students waiting to hear back from the Study and Work Away Service. Staff may also be on strike and SWAY will prioritise responding to the most urgent queries.
Where an activity is cancelled due to strike action, engagement and attendance monitoring procedures will be relaxed to ensure this does not impact your visa.
If industrial action becomes protracted, the University will follow guidance from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to ensure your visa is not impacted.
You 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. However, you should contact your internal examiner, supervisor or your School’s Graduate School to confirm that your viva or progression review is going ahead as planned.
You should work on the basis that supervision meetings will go ahead as planned, and prepare to attend these. However, you should contact your Supervisor to confirm.
If you have any further questions about the industrial action, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.