UCU Strikes November/December 2019

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.

Strikes have now been confirmed to be taking place for eight days from 25th November until 4th December.

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 ask that you complete this short survey before midnight Tuesday 12 November

Please log in to complete this survey.

The SU recognises that this issue is complex and difficult, and that there are many factors to consider for all parties involved. We will be continuing discussions with our students, the University, and UCU.

On Monday 18th November 17:45 - 20:00 we hosted an information event with the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof Tim Quine, Pro Vice Chancellor, Dave Hosken, and representatives from UCU. Open to all Exeter students - more info here

Please note this action does not include Falmouth University staff.

Statement from your Presidents: 

In recent weeks, members of the University & College Union (UCU) voted in favour of strike action over a number of issues, including pay, equality, casualisation, and workload. The action decided so far is eight days of strikes. 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. In the open survey we conducted, an overwhelming majority of those who participated stated that they support the cause of the strike, however there was a split over support for the action being taken. The Students’ Union will therefore be offering proportional support and action in response to the result, and doing our utmost to make sure that the University of Exeter makes every effort to mitigate the repercussions of the strike. Please see below details of the survey we conducted, the options available to students who support or do not support the strike, advice on the action we, as your SU, will be taking, and links to further information. Furthermore, we encourage any student to contact us about the strike and the impact it is having on you, by emailing presidents@thesu.org.uk and/or come along to one of our drop-ins - details below.

Yours sincerely

Joe Rigby, President Exeter

Allie Guy, President Welfare and Inclusivity

Sarah Redman, President Student Experience


Further information:

304 students took part in our open poll and voted to express how they feel about the University & College Union (UCU) action being taken from 25 November 2019. The results (see fig.1.) demonstrate that:

  • 32% support both the cause and the strike action
  • 53% support the cause but do not support the strike action
  • 10% do not support the cause or the strike action
  • 6% don’t know

Figure 1:

Strike poll results

For ALL students we will:

  • Host an information event, in partnership with Exeter Guild of Students, with University and UCU representatives on Monday 18 November at 6pm in
  • 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 here.
  • 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  85% 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 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 students who voted that they do not support the cause or 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 industrialaction@exeter.ac.uk 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.


If you want to contact us about the strikes and the impact they are having on you, you can email presidents@thesu.org.uk or come along to one of our drop-ins.


For more information please see:

University of Exeter information page

UCU information page

The SU information page

*A form of protest, like a teach-in, but off campus so no picket lines are crossed.



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 industrialaction@exeter.ac.uk


We will update this page as we get more information.