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Industrial action: FAQs for students

Information on the industrial action that was held on 1, 2 and 3 December 2021. Updated 9 December.

What is the industrial action about?

大学和学院Union (UCU) for academic, academic-related and senior professional services staff is planning to take industrial action over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. Industrial action can take the form of a strike (a concerted stoppage of work/refusal to work) or ‘action short of a strike’ (restricting the activities an employee will undertake, such as refusing to do overtime).

You can find more information about the UCU's positionon their webpagesand you can read about the position of Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) employershere. The SU has also published informationon its web pages. The Office for Students (OfS) has published someguidancefor any students who might be affected by industrial action, which you may find useful.

This industrial action means some academic, academic-related and senior professional services staff members were not working on the 1, 2 and 3 December 2021. They were also 'picketing' (a form of protest where staff members congregate) at the entrances of the University. Staff have a legally protected right to strike and have followed strict rules in order for this strike to be legal.

What will the University do to minimise the impact on students?

We will do everything we can to mitigate the impact of this industrial action on your learning. We will be working closely with academic departments to identify and implement ways to support you - for example, some staff may upload papers, recorded lectures and links to online resources to cover the content missed. In previous industrial action some staff have also rescheduled missed lectures and/or extended coursework deadlines, where Semester dates have allowed, though this is at their discretion. Please do let your department know if you have a particular accessibility need in terms of replacement materials.

We hope to be working closely with the Students' Union to understand students' experience during this process, and to do everything we can to support students.

We will communicate regularly with you (including updating this FAQ page where necessary) to make sure you are kept informed of any developments.

What should I do now?

You should continue with your academic work, attend all scheduled classes, and prepare for assessments as normal. If you are especially worried about a particular assessment, please write to yourDirector of StudiesorHead of Department.

You can also turn to theAcademic Skills Centrefor generalised help with assignments.

If you are feeling particularly anxious, please make use of the support networks we have at the University, including theStudents’ Union,Student Services和个人导师。

How will this dispute be resolved?

We know that our staff are dedicated to their jobs and delivering an excellent education and experience to our students.

The issue in this dispute is the USS pension, where there is limited action we can take as a University. This issue is negotiated nationally on behalf of all participating universities, and we are doing what we can to influence national discussions. However, it is a complex situation, and involves a wide range of universities all with different viewpoints. We are hopeful that the national bodies, and the national Trade Unions will find a way forward.

What is the University doing to resolve these issues?

The USS pension negotiations are nationally managed and need national level resolution.

Locally, we have worked with our University TU branches in a joint Pensions Working Group to understand the challenges USS faces. We have published ajoint statement, worked jointly on responses to consultations and made clear our joint need for a pension scheme which is affordable and sustainable, and particularly addresses the concerns of lower-paid staff. We have asked for a valuation which more readily reflects the strength of the Higher Education sector, and for governance which will recover trust in the management of the pension scheme.

On other matters which are not the subject of this strike action, we are continuing to see what positive progress we can take together here in Bath on issues we can directly influence. We have already:

  • 采取措施推进当地UCU分支上nti-casualisation and on the status of teaching staff within our University community. We plan to complete agreement on further actions this academic year.

  • In line with our equality agenda, we have doubled the number of women at professorial level since 2013/14 to 22%, increased women in senior professional service roles from 28% to 34%, enhanced academic leadership programmes and achieved a reduction in the gender pay gap.

  • Worked with UNISON to become one of the few universities who are an accreditedNational Living Wage employer.

But there is still more to do. We are grateful for the constructive way in which our local trade union colleagues have engaged in these discussions.

What if I incur extra costs due to the Industrial Action?

If you have incurred costs as a direct result of recent industrial action at the University, than you can make an application to theUniversity of Bath Hardship Fundfor financial assistance.

Examples of expenditure you may be able to receive assistance with includes: travel costs, childcare costs, the cost of study materials, subsistence expenditure (food, drinks etc.) as well as any other reasonable costs you may have incurred as a result of industrial action. You should keep a written record of relevant expenditure.

Please note, you will be unable to claim either compensation or tuition fee refunds via the Hardship Fund.

The Hardship Fund is a discretionary sum of money provided by the University to assist students in financial difficulty, and though we will do our best to assist, no guarantee of an award can be made. You can download an application form and find further information about theUniversity of Bath Hardship Fundthrough Student Services webpages.

If you have any further questions, please contactStudent Money Advice.

Where can I get help or advice if I'm worried?

Your Director of Studies can offer you advice about your specific academic circumstances. Doctoral students can also receivesupport from the Doctoral College.

TheUniversity’s Wellbeing Serviceis available seven days a week. You canbook an appointmentonline or get in touch by phone (01225 383838) or email (wellbeingservice@bath.ac.uk). All the services are confidential.

OurBe Well - Talk Nowservice also provides free, confidential advice and support by phone, video call or live chat from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

TheAdvice & Support Centre at the Students’ Unionoffers independent advice on your academic circumstances and options, including on the complaints process, and provides a range of other support services.

I am studying on a Student or Tier 4 visa – how might I be impacted?

The UK Government has confirmed that classes cancelled due to industrial action should not be treated as an unauthorised absence. Therefore, if your lecturer is on strike, this will not count as non-engagement.

Should the Student Immigration Service contact you regarding your lack of academic engagement for this period, you will be given the opportunity to explain that this was due to cancelled (online or/and in-person) study activities due to industrial action. In such instances, please be assured that you will not be penalised for non-engagement.

Can I claim reimbursement for any missed teaching?

We will work hard to take reasonable steps to minimise any potential disruption. We will continue to monitor the situation. Tuition fees also relate to youreducation as a whole, including the other services and facilities that you receive as a student, and not to individual teaching sessions. Therefore, the University is not planning any form of reduction in fees or compensation.

What will happen to the pay of striking staff?

Staff who take strike action on an identified day of action will have one day’s pay (1/365th of their annual salary) deducted from their pay for each day of action.

Salary deductions for those who elect to take strike action will be re-invested, once any costs are taken into account, on wellbeing and mental health support.

How do I make a complaint?

The University is in the process of putting in place reasonable measures to minimise any potential disruption for students affected by the industrial action.

When this strike action is concluded and the department has had an opportunity to put in place any alternative or adjusted arrangements, if these measures have not addressed your concerns, please follow theStudent Complaints Procedure.

Contact Us

Your Director of Studies can offer you academic advice about your specific academic circumstances. If you have a general query that is not course specific, please contactQueriesIndustrialAction@bath.ac.uk.

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