STRIKE action at 27 universities begins on Monday as a survey shows most UK university staff are considering leaving the sector.
A third wave of UK-wide strike action enters second week with staff at 27 universities walking out on Monday over pay, pensions and working conditions.
Altogether, staff at 67 universities are striking for five days. 40 universities saw strike action last week.
New industrial ballots have also opened at 149 universities across the UK.
The UK-wide action started last week when staff at 40 universities downed tools for five days.
This is the third round of strike action this academic year.
Staff recently took up to ten days of strike action over three weeks, from Monday 14 February to Wednesday 2 March, and previously went on strike for three days in December 2021.
The University and College Union (UCU) also warned of a staff exodus from UK universities after two thirds of university staff said they are considering leaving the sector.
The finding comes from a new UCU report ‘UK Higher Education – a workforce in crisis’ based on a survey of almost 7,000 (6,761) university staff at over 100 institutions.
The survey found:
- Two thirds of respondents said they are likely or very likely to leave the university sector in the next five years over pension cuts, pay and working conditions
- Almost nine in 10 (88%) respondents said they are not optimistic or not at all optimistic about the future of higher education in the UK
- A majority (57%) of respondents said they are unhappy or very unhappy about spending the remainder of their career in higher education.
Industrial action ballots also opened at 149 universities this month, including at most of the 67 universities facing strike action. They will run until Friday 8 April.
Successful ballots would pave the way for action to continue to be called throughout the remainder of 2022, including action short of strike, such as a marking and assessment boycott. This could stop hundreds of thousands of students from graduating.
Last month, university employers forced through USS pension cuts, which will see 35% slashed from a typical member’s guaranteed retirement income. In the pension dispute, UCU is demanding that employers revoke their cuts and re-enter negotiations.
The union said universities can more than afford to meet the demands of staff. University finance figures show total income across the sector is around £41.9bn with reserves of £46.8bn.
Students have been supporting striking staff and the National Union of Students joined the previous round of action with a student strike on Wednesday 2 March.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘University staff are striking over devastating pension cuts, falling pay and brutal working conditions.
‘They have been pushed to breaking point again and again by vice chancellors and are now saying that they are ready to leave the sector entirely. This is a damning indictment of the way staff have been treated.’
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