Industrial Action – FAQs for Students


The announced strikes by the University and College Union (UCU) scheduled to take place from Monday 25 September will no longer go ahead at the University of Lincoln.

The UCU’s national Higher Education Committee agreed to allow individual union branches to request exemption from participating in the five days of national industrial action.

After consulting its members, the Lincoln UCU branch requested an exemption and this has been accepted by the national UCU. This means that no strikes will take place at the University of Lincoln next week. Students will experience no disruption on campus or to their lectures and should attend timetabled activities as normal.

We are grateful to all colleagues for their continued commitment to ensuring a positive start to the new academic year for our new and returning students.

The following FAQs provide more information about the industrial action and steps being taken to support students.



What is the industrial action about?

The current industrial action forms part of a national dispute affecting around 150 UK universities, including the University of Lincoln. It arises out of a national disagreement between the UCU, a trade union of which some of our academic staff are members, and university employers, about pay. UCU rejected the university employers' offer of a 3% pay uplift for all staff and 9% for staff on lower salaries for 2022/23. The union is seeking a national pay settlement of 2% above the current rate of inflation, or 12%, whichever is higher. Universities say such a pay increase is unaffordable for many institutions. Lincoln, along with a number of other universities, implemented the offered pay increase so all staff could benefit from a pay rise and so budgets could be set for the current academic year. UCU members are exercising their lawful right to take industrial action, following a ballot of members. You can read more about the dispute on the UCU website and on the university employers (UCEA) website if you are interested in the background.

What is strike action?

Strike action is when staff withdraw their labour (refuse to work) for a defined period. At universities, this can include refusing to undertake activities such as teaching classes, marking coursework, attending meetings, sending emails related to work, and carrying out administrative tasks on the specified strike days. It also includes not preparing for work scheduled after the staff member returns from strike.

What is Action Short of Strike (ASOS)?

Whereas strike action involves staff members withdrawing their labour entirely for a defined period, action short of strike (ASOS) means continuing to work but refusing to do some activities deemed to be outside the terms of the employment contract. Sometimes this is called ‘work to rule’ or ‘work to contract’. The definition of ‘working to contract’ is open to interpretation but may mean some academic staff will not undertake activities they consider outside of their contracted duties, for example, by attending open days.

Are all academic staff taking strike action?

No. About a third of academic staff at Lincoln are members of UCU and some may choose not to participate in the strike action.

Should I attend classes on the day of the strikes?

Union members are not obliged to tell their employer in advance if they intend to take part in strikes but some may choose to do so. The University will be fully open on the days of the strikes and we expect most timetabled sessions will go ahead as scheduled, so we encourage students to attend university as planned. The University will try to inform you as soon as possible if your teaching session is going to be affected by strike action but this may not always be possible in advance. Please do be prepared to undertake independent or group study if necessary on the day. If your class is cancelled unexpectedly, please let us know so we can ensure all students on your module are treated fairly in how we cover any missed learning outcomes or if we need to make any subsequent changes to assessments. You can use this online form to notify us of a session which has not gone ahead.

Will any classes cancelled due to strike action be rescheduled?

The University is planning to minimise as much as possible the impact of the UCU strike action on teaching, learning and the student experience. We will aim wherever we can to make sure that all learning outcomes from cancelled teaching sessions will be covered elsewhere, although this may not be through the same staff member or the same sort of session. Where that might not be possible, we will adjust assessments so that you will never be asked to complete an assessment which covers teaching that was missed.

Will non-academic services be impacted by the strikes?

Most university services will not be affected by the strikes. Key services like the Library, Careers, Wellbeing Service, Student Support Centre and cafes will be open as normal. It is possible some Personal Tutor appointments could be affected but your School Office will be open and able to help you rearrange appointments.

What is a picket line?

Staff members taking part in industrial action can lawfully form official picket lines. These are usually small, peaceful gatherings near to striking workers’ main workplace. It is likely there will be picket lines on the days of the strikes located near the main entrances to the University campus where union members and supporters might display information about the strike or hold flyers. Students and staff are free to enter the University when there are picket lines. Picketing staff can talk to people as they pass about the purpose of the industrial action but must not use intimidating or abusive behaviour. UCU provides guidance for members on picketing and the Government also has a code of practice. We ask everyone in our university community to be respectful of others' views, whether or not they support the strikes, and to preserve our One Community values.

Why doesn't the university just pay staff more to resolve the dispute?

University pay negotiations are conducted annually at a national level between the main higher education trade unions (including UCU) and the university employers' association (called UCEA). Universities have raised concerns that UCU's pay demands for 2022/23 would push some less wealthy institutions into deficit and might mean some universities would not be viable. Just as inflation is putting a great strain on individuals, families and businesses, universities are also facing higher costs, while their main source of funding, undergraduate tuition fees, has been frozen since 2017. This year, the University of Lincoln is forecasting an operating surplus of just under £2m - less than 1% of our annual turnover. Every extra 1% in pay increases for staff requires an extra £1m of income in the budget to cover the cost.

Will my attendance record be affected if my class is cancelled?

Where classes are cancelled, our attendance monitoring system will be updated to confirm the cancellation. This will have no impact on your percentage attendance reports.

How will my academic progress be safeguarded?

We are doing everything we can to minimise the impact of strike action on teaching and learning through, as far as possible, arranging for all learning outcomes from cancelled sessions to be covered elsewhere (noting this may not be delivered by the same staff or the same sort of session). If it is not possible to cover all learning outcomes in this way, we will adjust assessments so that you will never be asked to complete an assessment which covers teaching that was missed. To ensure all students are treated fairly, any adjustments to assessments will be for all students on that affected module. If you have particular concerns about the effect of the industrial action on your academic performance or assessments, please do talk to your Personal Tutor or the Head of School. Your School Rep may also be a good person to have this discussion with as they can pass on your concerns to the School anonymously.

What if I incur costs on a day all my teaching is cancelled due to strikes?

If you feel that you may have costs associated with being on campus on a day of strike action when all your scheduled teaching that day was cancelled with no prior warning, we are able to provide financial support to help cover those costs. You will need to provide details of your costs (with receipts if possible) or details of mileage where your costs relate to travel in your own car. You can download our Refund Form for Travel Costs. We suggest you should wait until the end of the planned period of strike action before letting us know about any costs you may have incurred.

Who do I ask for further advice?

If you want to know if a specific class will take place, please ask the member of staff due to teach it, but please remember staff do not have to tell you if they intend to participate in industrial action.

If you are worried about the impact of strikes on your studies as a whole, you can contact your Personal Tutor for advice and reassurance. If your Personal Tutor is taking strike action you may prefer to contact your Head of School.

For independent and confidential advice, you can contact the SU Advice Service, your Student Rep or the Student Support Centre.

More information and contact details for student support teams can be found on the Student Services microsite at

How will I be kept informed?

We will endeavour to keep you updated as details of the planned action are confirmed. Please continue to check your University email account and these website FAQs.

Can I request an authorised absence if my teaching goes ahead on strike days?

Please assume timetabled teaching is going ahead on days of strike action unless you are told otherwise in advance. Authorised absence will not be approved for students who choose not to attend timetabled teaching sessions which go ahead on strike days.

What support is there for students whose teaching and academic support has been affected by industrial action?

Heads of School are monitoring the impact of industrial action on modules and programmes at a local level and in consultation with academic colleagues and student representatives. Heads are seeking to reduce the impact on all students by making sure that learning outcomes are met in different ways and materials are made available to students from cancelled classes. In the majority of cases this approach will work; however, this may not always be practicable, in which case one (or more) of the following approaches will apply.

  • Where possible, Heads will arrange to move dissertation support to non-strike days for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students

  • Heads will discuss with module and programme leaders if there is a need to adjust an assessment where there has been a significant impact on the teaching and learning experience for all students, in consultation with the College Director of Academic Quality and Standards (CDAQS). This adjustment may include extending submission deadlines for all students.

  • Where only a subset of students have been significantly affected (i.e. one or more seminar groups but not the whole cohort), Heads will discuss with module and programme leaders if there is a need to adjust an assessment for these students only in consultation with the College CDAQs. This adjustment may include extending submission deadlines only for the subset affected.

  • Subject Boards will monitor marks profiles to ensure they are consistent with previous iterations of a module (or subject norms where historical data is not available), where it is known that teaching and academic support has been markedly affected. This “Industrial Action Impact Review” should follow the same guidelines as previously used for the Covid Impact Review.