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UCU Strikes February/March 2020

The University and College Union (UCU) balloted its members at the University of Exeter on whether to take industrial action over proposed changes to their pension, and pay and working conditions. Along with many other universities around the UK, the Exeter UCU branch voted overwhelmingly (83.33%) in favour of strike action, on a 50.64% turnout.

Additional strikes have now been confirmed to be taking place for 14 days from 20th February until 13th March.

  • Week one - Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
  • Week two - Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
  • Week three - Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
  • Week four - Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March

Find the full UCU statement here.

The University plans to mitigate any disruption to students, as far as possible, and The SU is committed to supporting and representing the interests of our students in this process. In order that we may do this to best meet the wishes and needs of our members, we polled our students to ascertain how they feel about the strike action.

November 2019 poll results

November 2019 poll results

We polled students again in light of the additional strike dates to see if their stance had changed.

February 2020 poll results

February 2020 poll results


For ALL students we will:

  • Have daily drop-ins with SU Presidents and staff in The Lower Stannary from 9-10am every day of strike action.
  • Promote the University-led drop-ins with senior staff
  • Support our academic representatives (Course Reps and Subject Chairs) to collate information about which taught sessions are not delivered to ensure we have a student-led record of content that should not be included in any assessments (protection of academic outcomes).
  • Lobby the University to ensure that it takes steps to mitigate the effects of the industrial action in the type of way the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) deems ‘appropriate’.

For the 73% of students who support the cause, we pledge that we will:

  • Support students in lobbying the University and Universities UK to go back to the negotiating table to avoid action having to be taken.
  • Represent this view directly through the President Exeter communicating directly with Senior Managers.
  • Continue to communicate the difficult position students have been put in as a result of this situation and do all we can to lobby the University to mitigate the impact on students, including extensions, adjustments and legitimate academic outcomes for students, or financial compensation.
  • Use our networks to research best practice in the sector and lobby the University to adopt it.

For the 23% of students who voted to support the cause and the strike action, we pledge to:

  • Visit the picket line and act as a visual display of support for “Exeter students supporting UCU and strike”.
  • Encourage our academic societies to promote any teach-out activities*.
  • Support students to directly contact UCU and support their efforts.

For the 74% students who voted that they do not support the strike, we pledge to:

  • Support students in lobbying UCU to go back to the negotiating table to avoid action having to be taken.
  • Direct students to as required, in order that students can discuss further concerns.

For students who voted that they ‘do not know’ about the UCU and strike action, we pledge to:

  • Direct students to the University’s and UCU’s FAQ pages.
  • Continue to ask our academic representatives to cascade information as and when it becomes available.

Please note this action does not include Falmouth University staff.

Statement from your Presidents: 

We're disappointed that an agreement has not been reached between UCU and the University so, once again, staff will be striking. 

As your Presidents, and as a Union, we are acutely aware of the impact this will have on our members; we are putting in place a number of measures to try and ensure that our students have the support they need through the action, and that your learning outcomes are not affected.

We will be discussing with the University how strike money will be spent and the mitigation plans for the most affected courses. Please continue to feed back to your Course Reps and Subject Chairs throughout this period Our Advice Service is available, with drop-ins on Wednesdays 2-4pm in Penryn. The Academic Welfare Services for Exeter University will also be hosting daily drop-in sessions to support you through this time. More details will follow.

Yours sincerely

Joe Rigby, President Exeter

Allie Guy, President Welfare and Inclusivity

Sarah Redman, President Student Experience



Additional support for students

  • Ian Blenkhan, Director of Education and Student Experience for the University of Exeter, will be on campus on 24 February. Students can meet with him in PL Seminar 6 at 10.30am or 11.30am. No need to book.
  • Daily Drop-ins with staff  - 11:00-12:00 during each day of the industrial action in Peter Lanyon Meeting Room (for students to ask questions or raise any concerns that they have, however big or small)
  • Welfare sessions (accessible via the Info Point or by emailing

    • Monday 24th and Weds 26th – 12-4pm

    • Monday 2nd and Weds 4th– 12- 4pm

    • Monday 9th and Weds 11th – 12-4pm 

  • Dissertation Drop-ins with ASK: Academic Skills – for those looking for advice or have queries around writing up their dissertations:

    • Thursday 5 Mar – 13:00-15:00, Room 11 Peter Lanyon Building
    • Thursday 12 Mar – 13:00-15:00, Room 11 Peter Lanyon Building


For more information please see:

University of Exeter information page

UCU information page

The SU information page


Who are UCU? The UCU, or University and College Union, is a trade union representing staff across various higher and further education institutions. Find out more about the UCU on their website

What is a strike? A strike is when workers refuse to work or take other collective action in an attempt to gain a concession from their employer.

What is a picket line? A picket line is a person or group of people who stand peacefully outside the entrance (or entrances) to their workplace as a protest, and/or to try to dissuade others from entering during a strike. They can use this opportunity to explain the reasons for the industrial action. Last time the picket line at Penryn Campus was at the entrance to Campus. Students may join the picket line in solidarity with staff / the cause.

How will I be affected? Lecturers are under no obligation to let the University know if they will be striking, so it is very hard to let students know if and how they may be affected. We encourage you to read official emails from the University, and contact specific staff if you have any concerns. We don't know how the University is going to mitiage the effects of the strikes yet but will work with them to let you know of any arrangements as we become aware of them.

Will lectures / seminars etc be rescheduled? The motivation behind taking strike action is to cause a disruption in order to persuade employers to return to negotiations. Strikers do not get paid when engaging in industrial action. For this reason, it is unlikely that any missed lectures, tutorials, or seminars will be rescheduled. Please contact the Penryn Info Point for more information.


The University of Exeter has published a FAQ page with more information. If you have any concerns or queries, please email

We will update this page as we get more information.