Lecturers at 500 universities and colleges across the UK will take part in the first nationwide strike for five years today in a worsening row over pay and pensions.
Tens of thousands of members of the University and College Union (UCU) will mount picket lines at universities including Cardiff, Glasgow, Oxford, Liverpool, Manchester and several in London.
Rallies will be held in cities and the strike is the latest in a series of walkouts by the union to protest at changes to their pensions as well as pay cuts.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “University and college staff really value their pension rights and have made their views of the detrimental changes crystal clear. Strike action is always a last resort but the attacks on pensions and pay have created real anger and, instead of burying their heads in the sand, the employers need to respond urgently to our concerns.
“Staff are sick to the back teeth of being told that their pay and pensions need to be cut to pay for an economic crisis created by others.”
The UK-wide action follows four days’ strike action at 67 other universities in a separate row over pensions.
Professor Keith Burnett, chairman of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said: “Employers are extremely disappointed by UCU’s decision to take industrial action. We are concerned that UCU may be confusing its members, staff and students by combining separate ballot outcomes with generic strike action.
“We look to UCU to work with higher education institutions during this period of change and challenge for all, not against them. There is much uncertainty in higher education at present and this course of action will have the potential to cause further difficulties for students and institutions.”
The strike will disrupt lectures and studies of students nearing the end of the academic year.