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Durham University

Notices

Information for students

  • Mitigating the impact of the strike on students is our highest priority

  • You should work on the assumption that your classes will be held as scheduled and that assignments may be submitted as usual, on each day of the strike

  • Any changes to deadlines will be communicated to you via your academic department

  • We will be working with every academic department to ensure no student will be disadvantaged in assessments and examinations as a consequence of the industrial action

Dear Students,

I am writing to update you on the mitigation policy shared last week. As you will recall, that policy is intended as a pragmatic route between the right of staff to take part in industrial action and the need of students to fulfill learning outcomes required by their programmes of study.

Recent conversations with students and staff have indicated that examinations and assessments are a special area of concern. It is too early to know the impact of the strike on specific modules. Nonetheless, I wish to reassure you that we will be working with every department to ensure that no student will be disadvantaged in assessments and examinations as a consequence of industrial action. All evaluations will be fair, consistent and transparent.

We have added a set of FAQs to the strike action information web pages. As new questions and concerns emerge, we will post answers to them. You may contact us at strike.action@durham.ac.uk if you have any questions which are not covered by the FAQs.

Please continue to act on the assumption that classes will be held as scheduled, and that assignments may be submitted as usual, on each day of the strike.

All the best,

Alan Houston
Vice Provost (Education)

Dear Student,

I am writing to update you on industrial action planned to run from 25 November to 4 December, and to outline plans to minimise the disruption of your learning experience.

As a reminder, the strike planned to run from 25 November to 4 December is national, and concerns conflicts between the University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK (UUK) over pensions, and between UCU and the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) over pay.For information about these disputes, see the pages maintained by UCU, UUK, and UCEA.

These are difficult issues for all members of the community.The decision to strike will not have been taken lightly; our staff are dedicated to their students, and do not wish to undermine their educational experiences.It is with this in mind that we have developed a policy concerning ways to mitigate the impact of the strike.The full policy can be viewed online.Its purpose is to identify a pragmatic route between the right of staff to take part in industrial action and the need of students to fulfil the learning outcomes required by their programmes of study.

The period of industrial action will span eight days.However, many members of staff are not in the UCU, and will not be striking.Those who are UCU members may strike all eight days, or only a subset of them.Staff intending to strike may choose to inform their students of their intentions.They are not, however, obligated to inform the University in advance.Therefore I ask all students to act on the assumption that classes will be held as scheduled, and that assignments may be submitted as usual, on each day of the strike.

Whilst opinions across our community will vary on these complex national issues, we hope that we can all remain united in a common respect for all our community members throughout this time.

I will provide updates on a regular basis.You can also find information, all messages, policies and answers to frequently asked questions on our dedicated strike action web pages: www.durham.ac.uk/notices/strikeaction

All the best,

Alan Houston

Vice Provost (Education)

Dear Durham University Students,

You may be aware that the higher education trade union UCU has voted in favour of industrial action. The purpose of this email is to provide further information and to outline our commitment to continuing to deliver high standards of education.

UCU ballot results:

Trade Union

Reason for Ballot

Closing date

Aggregated (national) or Disaggregated (Local) Ballot

Type of Action

Numbers of staff voting in favour **

Outcome – industrial action?

UCU

Changes to USS

30 October

Local

Strike

ASOS*

405

454

(out of 950 UCU members)

Yes to Strike and ASOS

UCU

2019 Pay Offer

30 October

Local

Strike ASOS*

379

445

(out of 965 UCU members)

Yes to Strike and ASOS

* ASOS = Action Short of a Strike

** Durham University has 4385 employees.

Dates of Strike Action

UCU has notified us that there will be a period of strike action commencing Monday 25 November to Wednesday 4 December 2019.

Action Short of a Strike will also commence on 25 November 2019. UCU has advised us this will be in the form of working to contract; not covering for absent colleagues; not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action, not undertaking any voluntary activities, and for the pay dispute only, the ASOS includes the not sharing of materials relating to lectures or classes cancelled as a result of strike action.

Our position on industrial action

We understand the outcome of the 2019 pay negotiations and the proposed changes to USS are important issues that concern many of our staff. We outlined our position in our most recent staff communication on these matters on 15 October 2019. To read a copy of this email, click here.

We also know the decision to vote in favour of industrial action has not been taken lightly by many of our staff, and we respect their right to take part in industrial action. However, we are disappointed by the outcome from the UCU ballot given the potential impact on you, our students.

Pay and pensions are subject to national negotiations, and, as one of a large number of employers, we have limited influence over the outcome, especially when many other higher education institutions are experiencing significant financial challenges.

Our Commitment to you

We will be providing updates for you on a regular basis, and would like to take this opportunity to affirm our commitment to the following:

  • We seek to ensure that you all receive the necessary education and support to enable you to meet the learning outcomes of your programme of study;
  • We will pursue all available options to minimise disruption to you;
  • We are working with academic staff to develop policies and procedures that meet these objectives;
  • We will ensure that these policies and procedures are consistently applied;
  • During the strike all college and departmental offices and central services will be open as usual.

We ask that you act on the assumption that classes will be held as scheduled and that assessments can be submitted as usual. If this is not possible, then we will do our best to rapidly communicate this to you and find alternative means of ensuring that all learning outcomes are met.

A copy of this email and a dedicated contact email address is available on our strike action website, which will shortly be updated with further information : https://www.dur.ac.uk/notices/strikeaction/

Best wishes,

Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden