Why are staff at the University taking industrial action?

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced that its members have voted in favour of industrial action over possible redundancies to academic and professional staff.

We have been working closely and constructively over the past few months with UCU to mitigate the risk of any compulsory redundancies and to try and avoid industrial action. Significant efforts have taken place to ensure that we have supported those impacted. These have included:

  • An enhanced Voluntary Severance Scheme
  • Flexible range of support services including one-to-one coaching, career guidance and outplacement support.
  • Retraining and Redeployment Fund of £250,000 for 2018/19
  • Support redeployment into an alternative role following a period of retraining.
  • Extension of 90 days consultation period for those members of staff who need more time to reach a decision

The University continues to engage in constructive discussions with the UCU. The local UCU branch are due to meet this Thursday (20th September 2018) to discuss their approach to industrial action. We remain hopeful that industrial action can be avoided.

Timetabled sessions

Will the University Campus be open on strike days?

The campus will be open as normal on strike days and you will be able to go into all buildings.

When arriving on campus on strike days it is possible that you may need to pass staff taking part in the industrial action at the entrances to the University. Please be assured that the relevant trade union has issued guidance that indicates that all pickets are intended to be peaceful in nature. Access to campus entrances will not be blocked and you should feel able to pass freely and easily without confrontation.

Will I still be able to register during the strike period?

Registration will continue as planned. Please refer to the Registration web pages for further information.

Will lectures, seminars and other teaching events be cancelled?

Impact is likely to vary depending on School/Department. Some events will run but others will be cancelled as staff taking part in the strike will not be working and it is not usually possible to arrange for other staff to cover teaching events at such short notice.

How will I know if my teaching events will be cancelled?

If possible we will let you know in advance if an event is going to be cancelled. However, this may not be possible as staff taking part in the industrial action are not required to tell the University in advance so you may not find out until the day an event is due to take place.

Some staff will choose to informally tell you that they are striking in advance of the missed session. You should feel comfortable emailing a staff member in advance to ask whether or not they will be participating in industrial action but they are not obliged to let you know.

What happens if my lecture or seminar is cancelled?

In cases where the University was not told in advance, we will know this after the event and this will be recorded, so that the impact of the cancellation can be considered as necessary.

You may wish to keep your own record of events which have been cancelled from your timetable, for future reference.

Will lecture capture still be available?

Lecture capture will carry on as normal for those teaching events which are taking place or are being re-scheduled.

Should I still swipe into my lectures?

If we know in advance that the event is cancelled, then the event will be removed from your personalised timetable, in which case you should not attend the event. The most up-to-date student timetable information is available via MyStudentRecord because there is typically a short delay before changes are reflected in the mobile application. However, staff are not required to tell the University in advance if they will not be at work, so if you have not been told an event will be cancelled you should assume that it will take place, attend and swipe in as normal. If a member of staff does not arrive within the first ten minutes of the scheduled start time you may leave.

Will my attendance record be affected if an event is cancelled?

Your attendance record will not be affected if an event does not take place, whether you were told in advance or not. The University will have a record of all events which did not take place so no student’s attendance record will be affected in a negative way, as it will only take into account events which happened.

I am an international student on a Tier 4 visa, what does this mean for my attendance record?

Please continue to attend and swipe into teaching events using the card readers.  It is important that all students, including those on Tier 4 visas, continue to engage with their studies and attend teaching events that have not been cancelled.  We will be monitoring the cancelation of teaching events closely and continue to monitor the attendance of Tier 4 students throughout the strike period. A member of staff may contact you if your attendance is not meeting expected levels once any cancellations have been taken into consideration.

Will students be penalised for missing classes that have not been cancelled but fall within the strike?

There will not be any additional penalties for students missing timetabled teaching events during the period of industrial action.  Students are expected to attend all timetabled teaching events associated with their programme of study in order to achieve the maximum benefit from the learning opportunities offered to them. The university will continue to monitor student attendance throughout the period of industrial action and we may make contact with students where we have concerns, for example if students are sponsored on a Tier 4 visa.

Students who miss teaching events may find module assessments or examinations more challenging and unauthorised non-attendance at events which take place during the period of industrial action will not be accepted as grounds for academic appeals.

Will cancelled teaching events be re-scheduled?

The University will make every effort to support your learning experience. UCU has given advice to its striking members that they should not re-schedule cancelled events, so it is very unlikely the University will be able to re-schedule all cancelled events.

However, the University will seek to re-schedule as many cancelled events as possible in order to limit, as far as practical, the impact on your studies.

What other resources am I able to access throughout the strike period?

You are encouraged to engage in independent study utilising resources available for your modules on blackboard and module reading lists.

A variety of learning resources can be accessed throughout the period of strike action. We will also be running career focused workshops over the strike days.

Will this affect my outcome at the end of the academic year?

At this stage of the academic year, please don’t worry about this. The University is keeping the situation under close review and we will update you as the year progresses.

Should I submit mitigating circumstances if I am affected by the industrial action?

It will not be necessary to submit mitigating circumstances as the University will be aware of the issues and will take these into account as appropriate during our examination and assessment processes. If you are unable to attend, complete, or submit an assessment for another reason during the strike period then you should submit a request which will be considered in line with the usual criteria and process.

If you have a specific learning difficulty or disability and feel that the industrial action has impacted on your condition and consequently your ability to submit an assessment in accordance with the deadline you should submit a mitigating circumstances claim and this will be considered in line with the mitigating circumstances policy. If you have not done so already, you may also want to seek advice from the Student Support Service.

If I want to raise a complaint as a result of the industrial action, what should I do?

We would encourage you to delay any complaint submission until the impact of the industrial action can be assessed. The University is proactively seeking to minimise the impact of the industrial action on students. Students will not therefore need to bring this to the attention of the University and we will assess the level of the impact regardless of whether students submit complaints.

It will not be possible to offer any remedy to the strike action at this stage and before any impact has been assessed. If however you still wish to make use of the Student Complaints Procedure then you can submit a complaint form directly to qualoffice@le.ac.uk for consideration.

The Education Unit in the Students’ Union can offer support and advice with regard to complaints and appeals.


Further information

Where can I get more support and information?

We know that the prospect of industrial action will cause some students concern and anxiety so would encourage you to raise any specific questions or concerns. The University is taking all reasonable steps to ensure that staff, students (and others) are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

If you are concerned about the impact on your studies or welfare, you can contact your department or the Advice Service in the Students’ Union. For welfare concerns, you can also contact the Student Services Centre in the Charles Wilson Building.

If you have any questions outside of this then please email industrialaction@le.ac.uk and we'll get back to you.

What happens if I do not attend a teaching event that takes place during the industrial action?

You are encouraged to attend all teaching events which take place and you should ensure that you attend if an assessment is scheduled to take place at that event. No additional penalty will be applied for non-attendance at a particular event which goes ahead during the industrial action, but if an assessment is missed you will not be able to apply for mitigating circumstances solely based on non-attendance. The Mitigating Circumstances Policy will apply if you were unable to attend for other reasons, such as illness and have documentary evidence to support your claim.

Contacting staff

What will the University do to mitigate the lack of pastoral support students will receive if their personal tutors/key staff members are on strike?

Pastoral support will continue to be available through the Student Services Centre and is not affected by the industrial action. As indicated above, in many cases academic support will continue to be available where colleagues are not participating in the industrial action. If students urgently require contact with a member of academic staff they should ask for advice from professional services staff in their department or College who should be able to advise who is available.

How will distance learning students be affected by the industrial action?

As distance-learning provision is different from campus-based learning with materials typically made available to students for self-study, we anticipate that the impact on our distance-learning students will be limited. You may experience some delay in receiving responses from staff who are participating in the industrial action. There may also be some delays to feedback on assessed work. We are monitoring the situation closely to understand what impact there may be on particular programmes and students, and will take appropriate mitigating action as required.Further information

If I have further questions what can I do?

You can speak to your Department and Personal Tutor and check BlackBoard. We will continue to update this webpage and these FAQs but if you have a particular question which is not answered here please e-mail it to industrialaction@le.ac.uk

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