Education & Family

University strike could threaten exams

Exam room Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The lecturers will be striking during the university exam season

University lecturers have announced a two-day strike at UK universities this month, threatening to disrupt exams.

The walkout on 25 and 26 May is part of a pay dispute - with the University and College Union rejecting an offer of 1.1%.

Lecturers have also warned of escalating the dispute to disrupt the allocation of places after A-level exam results in the summer.

University employers described the decision to strike as "disappointing".

The walk-out will involve academics, such as lecturers and researchers, but would also include university employees such as librarians.

The strike days are during the exam season - but the university employers' body, the University and Colleges Employers' Association, said individual universities would look at how they could minimise any impact on students taking exams.

The employers also said exam invigilators would not necessarily be academics, who might be affected by the strike call.

"Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but staff feel that they have been left with no alternative, said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU lecturers' union.

Wage stagnation

She said university staff had faced a long-term wage stagnation, with pay falling by 14.5% in real terms over the past six years.

"A 1.1% offer is an insult to the hard work and dedication of higher education staff, particularly in light of the 3% average pay rise enjoyed by vice-chancellors this year."

The union has warned that without a resolution to the pay dispute there would be further strikes - and threatened "additional action in August to coincide with the release of A-level results".

The UCEA employers' body said the headline figure of a 1.1% increase only represented part of the pay deal - and that with other increments the average rise would be worth 2.3%.

"Planning for any form of industrial action is disappointing for higher education institutions, with one trade union on a path to try and cause disruption," said a UCEA spokesman.

"The vast majority of staff in higher education institutions understand the reality of the current environment and do not support action that could harm both their institutions and their students."