Industrial Action: Message from PVC Learning and Teaching

Dear students,

You will be aware that, due to a dispute regarding the future of the USS pension scheme, the University and College Union (UCU) is planning industrial action. This is a national issue, and we are hopeful that discussions at national level will provide a resolution.

However, the current situation is that UCU have called a series of strikes on the dates set out below:

  • Week 1:  2 days from Thursday 22 February 2018 to Friday 23 February 2018
  • Week 2: 3 days from Monday 26 February 2018 to Wednesday 28 February 2018
  • Week 3: 4 days from Monday 5 March 2018 to Thursday 8 March 2018
  • Week 4: 5 days from Monday 12 March 2018 to Friday 16 March 2018.

At the heart of the current dispute has been a disagreement about whether or not the USS pension scheme as it stands is sustainable and affordable for the future. Universities UK (the representative organisation for the UK’s universities) and the Pensions Regulator are of the view that the current scheme is unsustainable and therefore there is a need for significant reform ( On the other hand, the UCU is more sceptical about the level of risks long-term and seeks to defend the current pension provision for academic and senior professional services staff (

At present we are unsure of the extent and intensity of the proposed action as staff are under no legal obligation to inform us ahead of time if they plan to take industrial action. Since UCU membership is spread unevenly across the University, we suspect that some departments or students could face more significant disruption while others may be hardly affected. However, we will communicate with you as soon as we have more information and keep you updated on how this will affect you.

Please continue with your academic work, attend scheduled classes, and prepare for any assessments as normal. You will need to attend lectures, seminars, lab sessions etc or submit work as normal unless you are specifically notified of any changes.  We are currently assuming that all student-facing services (libraries, student services etc) will remain open during the strike action, but will send further information if this position changes.

You should expect to find picket lines at the main entrances to the University and also at the Virgil Building on the days of the strike. It is your decision whether you wish to cross the picket line, but we would always urge courteous and respectful behaviour from everyone in our community.

I understand your concerns regarding the possibility of some of your classes being cancelled and the potential effects on your preparations for assessment. We will be monitoring the effects of the strike very closely and also working with the Students’ Union to try to mitigate adverse effects of the industrial action on your learning over the next few weeks.

However, whilst we appreciate this strike may be disruptive for you, please be aware that those on strike have not taken the decision lightly and are dedicated members of our community. Whether on strike or not, staff are passionate about education and care deeply about the students they teach. That is why many of us work here.

We are proud of the quality of the education we provide at the University of Bath and want to assure you that the welfare and progress of students is a priority. We will continue to do all we can to support your education, minimise disruption for you and keep you informed of developments.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Peter Lambert
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching)

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