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About the UCU strike action commencing Thursday 20 February


Some University of Bradford staff are taking strike action and action short of a strike.

This action is part of a national dispute affecting more than 70 institutions.

Here we provide answers to any questions or concerns you may have in relation to the strike action and how it might affect you. You will also find information to help you understand why this is happening. We will update the page as new information becomes available.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are striking over changes to the national Higher Education pension scheme (USS) and the 2019/20 national pay award.  The University remains hopeful that the national dispute on these issues can be resolved as soon as possible.

The University is doing everything it can to ensure that this has minimal impact on students and expect the majority of teaching activity during this action to take place as normal.

The dates of the strike action are: 20, 21, 24, 25, 26 February 2020 and 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 March 2020 and the action short of a strike (ASOS) which started on 25 November 2019 will terminate no later than 29 April 2020.

During this period all learning and student support services, including the library, will continue to operate as normal.

The University is working closely with the Students’ Union to advise and support students.

More information for our students can be found below, including a message from our Vice-Chancellor.

A message to our students from our Vice-Chancellor

You may have seen in the news, or heard from your friends or lecturers, about staff taking strike action at a number of universities across the country.  Unfortunately, we have received confirmation from the University and College Union (UCU) that we will be one of these universities, meaning that some of our staff will be taking strike action and action short of a strike.  I would like to assure you, however, that we are doing everything we can to ensure that your studies are not affected.

We expect the majority of teaching activity during this action to take place as normal.  If any activity is cancelled, we will notify you through the Publish timetabling system. Otherwise, please assume that your lectures, seminars and other classes are taking place.

During this period all of our learning and student support services, including the library, will continue to operate as normal.

We will continue to keep you updated with developments and what we are doing to reduce the impact on you and your studies, and ensure that you have all of the information you need.  In the meantime if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Nikki Pierce - Academic Registrar and Director of Student and Academic Services, on

We are also working closely with the Students’ Union on this matter, and they are also available to advise and support you.

Best wishes,
Shirley Congdon

How this affects your studies

Impact on studies

We understand that you may be worried about how the strikes will affect your studies. The University has been working hard to prepare for this action and will do everything it can to ensure that the impact on students is minimised while at the same time maintaining high academic standards. We have policies and procedures in place to mitigate any risk to your performance and achievement from this industrial action.

The industrial action means that some staff may decide not to work on the designated strike days. This means that some academic staff 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 the University 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. 

It is also important to note that the University will be open as usual during the action and many academic and support activities will continue to operate as normal.

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 available to give you a definite answer.

Yes. You should work on the basis that your studies will continue as normal, unless you are told otherwise. This means that you should aim to attend scheduled teaching, and complete and submit assessments by the relevant deadlines.

Don't worry – we will make sure that the strike action doesn't impact on your attendance record. When the period of industrial action ends, we will correct your attendance record so that sessions that didn't run aren't impacting on your overall attendance figure. It doesn't matter whether you attended and swiped into the sessions that didn't run, or stayed away because you had been told that they lecture wouldn't be taking place.

The University will remain open throughout any period of industrial action and you will continue to have access to all of the University’s facilities. Some of our academic staff who are supervising research student projects may take strike action and may therefore be unavailable for the days of the strike - on 25, 26, 27, 28 & 29 November and 2, 3 & 4 December 2019.

If you have a viva or progression panel scheduled on a strike day then we will contact you individually to confirm arrangements.

The strike action should not impact on your visa status. The strike action may result in the cancellation of some of the scheduled teaching activities you are expected to attend. However, we will log that sessions haven’t taken place, and this will not count towards your attendance requirements.

At this stage, we do not know how widespread the impact of the industrial action will be, but it is possible that some scheduled teaching may be cancelled. We will do our very best to inform you in advance of any teaching which may be cancelled and will seek to provide alternatives if possible. In some cases, however, this information may not be available to us in advance. You should expect to attend scheduled teaching unless you have been informed that it is not taking place.

Lectures, seminars, tutorials

Yes — we will be working hard to ensure that there is minimum disruption to your programme. We will notify you if we know that your lecture or other scheduled activity is cancelled. Otherwise, you should assume it is going ahead and attend as usual.

If we know that your lecture or other scheduled learning activity is cancelled we will notify through the notifications on your Publish timetable. If you haven’t accessed Publish you can find information on how to use it at, including how to turn notifications on and off. If you are having any problems with accessing Publish, do contact us at

If you attend a lecture we would always advise you to check/swipe in — even if it doesn’t subsequently run. However, if you have been notified that your lecture is cancelled, then you do not need to attend it or to 'Check In'.

UCU is asking its members not to reschedule teaching cancelled due to strike action. However, the University will take measures to ensure that students do not miss out on content as a result of the strike action. If you are worried about teaching activities that have been missed, please contact your Personal Academic Tutor (PAT). If your PAT is on strike, your programme administration team will be able to advise you on available academic contacts.

Coursework and assignments

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.

If you need to contact a member of academic staff who is on strike, for example, your project supervisor or in relation to support or feedback with your assessment, please contact your Programme Administration team who will be able to point you to an alternative contact.

The University has plans in place to ensure that the marking of student work is not affected by the industrial action, and will work closely with the Students' Union to implement these.

About what's happening

The University has been notified that some of our staff who are members of the University and College Union are going to take industrial action as follows:

  • Discontinuous strike action on 25, 26, 27, 28 & 29 November and 2, 3 & 4 December 2019.
  • Continuous Action short of a Strike started on 25 November 2019 and terminates no later than 29 April 2020. Action short of a strike will include:
    • working to contract;
    • not covering for absent colleagues;
    • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action;
    • not sharing materials relating to lectures or classes cancelled as a result of strike action;
    • and not undertaking any voluntary activities.

Members of staff at the University are taking action over two separate issues. Both are national disputes:

  • The first is related to the USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme) pension scheme, which is a national pension scheme with around 300,000 members across 350 organisations. We offer USS pensions to our staff on Grades 8 and above, many of whom are academics.
  • The second is a dispute around pay and conditions related to the national pay negotiations

As this is a national dispute involving hundreds of higher education employers, the University of Bradford is not free or able to resolve this dispute on its own, or with its own staff.

Negotiations on pensions took place at UK level between Universities UK, who represent all the employers, and UCU, and negotiations on pay took place between UCEA, who represent all the employers, and UCU. At Bradford we will of course continue to keep close to any subsequent negotiations in the hope that they will provide a way of settling this dispute. The University of Bradford is one of 60 institutions affected by the strike action.

Where your scheduled teaching events are going ahead as planned, you are expected to attend as usual. We recognise that some students may choose not to cross a picket line to attend teaching; however we will be unlikely to be able to offer alternate teaching for these students.

Coursework should be submitted as usual — most of our coursework is now submitted online and therefore should not be affected by strike action.

No, a union can only call on its own members to withdraw their labour and only at a university where they have achieved a lawful result in a statutory ballot. This is currently the case in 60 universities.

The University's main priority is to avoid disruption to students. We are seeking to avoid cancelling scheduled teaching activity wherever possible, and rescheduling or providing content through other mechanisms where cancellations happen. Our library and student support services will also continue to be available. Our aim is to ensure that all students receive the taught content and support associated with their programme of study; if any student feels that we have not achieved this, then they can use our Student Complaints Procedure to raise this with us formally.

Explanation of terms

A union (or trade union) is a group of members who work in a particular trade, sector or line of work. One of a trade union's main aims is to protect and advance the interests of its members in the workplace. The University and College Union (UCU) is one of a number of recognised unions at the University of Bradford.

Industrial action is action taken by workers to show their employers that they are unhappy with an aspect of their employment.

To ‘go on strike’ means not doing any work at all for the whole of the strike days.

‘Action short of a strike’, which staff may also take, means the following in this action:

  • working to contract (for example strictly observing any working hours stated in a contract of employment)
  • not covering for absent colleagues (unless required to do so in a contract of employment)
  • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
  • not undertaking any voluntary activities (for example evening or weekend work, unless specifically stated in a contract of employment).

In this action, this will continue until no later than 29 April 2020.

A picket line is where staff taking part in industrial action gather outside their place of work in order to seek to persuade others not to work. Picketing is only allowed at or near entrances to and exits from the picket's own place of work.

Pickets can request permission to explain their dispute to those entering or leaving the workplace (including students). These activities must be carried out peacefully at all times.

However pickets do not have the right stop any person crossing the picket line; force a person to listen to them; stop any vehicle; assault, threaten, intimidate, abuse, harass or defame anyone; cause alarm or distress; or obstruct any path, road, entrance or exit.

Getting more help for students

If you're a student and would like more information, please see how we can further assist you below.

What if I still have questions?

We will send you further information as it becomes available. If you have any further queries please contact us by emailing Please also check this page for updated information.

What to do if you feel your studies have been negatively impacted

If you are worried about the impact of the strike on your academic performance, you can speak to your Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) about this. If your PAT is on strike, your programme administration team will be able to advise you on available academic contacts.

You can raise any concerns you have with the University by emailing The Students' Union Advice Centre is also available to provide help and support.