Find out more - FAQs - Industrial action - student information - University of Kent
Industrial action - student information

Find out more - FAQs

Latest update 14 June 2018

Updated or new FAQs are highlighted in gold

About the action

What was the action?

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) voted in favour of national industrial action from Thursday 22 February.

The action affected 61 UK universities including Kent and then took the form of action short of a strike following 14 days of escalating strike action that took place over a four week period (University teaching weeks 18-21). All action was suspended on 13 April 2018.

What is action short of a strike?

Action short of a strike can take many forms but the UCU have asked members taking action to:

  • work to contract
  • not cover for absent colleagues
  • not reschedule lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
  • not undertake any voluntary activities.

When was the strike action?

The strike action took the form of 14 days of escalating strike action over a four week period (University teaching weeks 18-21). Strikes began with two days of action in University week 18 rising to five days in week 21.

  • Week 18 - Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February (two days)
  • Week 19 - Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)
  • Week 20 - Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)
  • Week 21 - Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

Why was industrial action being taken?

Universities UK (representing UK university employers) and the UCU (representing their members) cannot agree on the best way forward to reform one of the UK university pension schemes, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The UCU declared in January 2018 that the national proposal at the time was not acceptable and that it felt it necessary to call for nationwide industrial action by its members.

What is the current position with the USS pension?

The Universities Superannuation Scheme is worth about £65 billion. It’s trustees have estimated it to have a short-term deficit of about £6.1 billion and by law it must show the regulator how it is planning to make up for that.

Following talks between UUK and UCU facilitated by ACAS in March 2018, a new proposal was published that proposes the creation of a new Joint Expert Panel to re-consider the previous valuation of the scheme. This has now been agreed to by the UCU who have suspended their industrial action.

Teaching, assessments and academic progress

What mitigation has already taken place?

A number of modules and courses across the University were affected by UCU industrial action. This has had a larger impact in some schools than in others. You should have now received emails from your Head of School which will have begun to explain how the effects in your school are being mitigated.

We know this is a worrying time for you and are aware, through emails you’ve sent us and feedback you’ve provided through course representatives and other Kent Union services, that many of you are concerned about the possible impact on your exams.

Where your modules were affected by last term’s industrial action, a variety of appropriate mitigation measures have now been put in place.

Depending on the module, these may have included substituting teaching activities; revising the format and/or content of your assessments; extending project deadlines; and changing the weighting of a particular assessment in your overall results.

What will happen to in-class assessments cancelled by the action?

Though many assessments did go ahead as usual, it is possible that you may have had a scheduled in-class assessment (eg presentations, in-class tests, lab assessments) that did not take place.

This is covered by the University’s 'Policy on Assessments Affected by the Industrial Action'.

Where that scheduled in-class assessment was required to meet a Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) accreditation, your academic school was required to reschedule the assessment as soon as possible.

In the case of other in-class assessments cancelled by the action, your academic school would have made every effort to reschedule the assessment at the earliest opportunity.

If that wasn’t possible, your school will remove that assessment from the overall module mark. That means that the assessment won’t be part of the method used to derive your final mark. Note - you will not receive any zero scores because of the action.

What about other assessments affected by the action?

Though many scheduled classes will have taken place as usual, it is possible that you may have had some classes cancelled due to the industrial action where material necessary for future assessments (eg presentations, in-class tests, lab assessments, coursework) would have been taught.

This is covered by the University’s 'Policy on Assessments Affected by the Industrial Action'.

Where an assessment (eg presentations, in-class tests, lab assessments, coursework) took place but material relevant to the assessment had not been delivered as a consequence of the industrial action, schools should have adjusted the assessment so you were not be expected to demonstrate learning in those areas that were not delivered. This could involve, for example, adjusting assignment tasks, essay or test questions or marking criteria as appropriate.

Are exams being delayed or cancelled?

Your exam timetable is now available to view in the Student Data System. All exams are scheduled to run and we do not currently forsee the need to cancel any due to industrial action.

Will I be properly prepared for my exams?

We know this is a worrying time for you and are aware, through emails you’ve sent us and feedback you’ve provided through course representatives and other Kent Union services, that many of you are concerned about the possible impact on your exams.

Where your modules were affected by last term’s industrial action, a variety of appropriate mitigation measures have now been put in place.

Depending on the module, these may have included substituting teaching activities; revising the format and/or content of your assessments; extending project deadlines; and changing the weighting of a particular assessment in your overall results.

Where necessary, the format and/or content of your examinations will have been revised in ways that are fair and equitable to all students and that maintain the academic standards that underpin the value of your degree.

Will I be examined on things I haven’t been taught?

You will not be examined on things you haven’t been taught. Where necessary, the format and/or content of your examinations will be revised in ways that are fair and equitable to all students and that maintain the academic standards that underpin the value of your degree.

Should there be any general changes relating to your examinations, these will be clearly communicated to you by your school well in advance.

[Updated] - What more will be done to mitigate the impact on my end of year/final marks?

We have completed a University-wide process to collect and assess information on the impact of the industrial action and how this has been mitigated on a module-by-module basis. The findings have been used to compile detailed reports that will be used by Boards of Examiners when confirming your marks and making decisions on academic progress and degree classifications at the end of the year.

Your School will have recently emailed you with more information about what this has meant for your modules.


These impact assessments have been made following a thorough investigation of each module. If however, once you have read the impact summaries for your modules, you are concerned that the impact levels and mitigation have not been accurately recorded, please contact ImpactAssessments@kent.ac.uk and a cross-faculty team will make sure that your concerns are investigated.

Will I be required to apply for a concession if my assessments are affected by the action?

This is covered by the University’s 'Policy on Assessments Affected by the Industrial Action'.

The Boards of Examiners, who confirm your marks and make decisions on academic progress and/or degree classifications at the end of the year, will already be taking the impact of industrial action on your modules into account without you needing to apply for a concession.

There should therefore not normally be any need to apply for a concession on the basis of last term’s industrial action.

However, you may still wish to apply for a concession, normally due to illness or other circumstances, and you can find more information about concessions from the Central Student Administration Office.

How can I find out more about examinations?

More information about how your exams are marked, concessions and our academic appeals process can be found in the ‘Important Examination Information’ from your Dean of Faculty. You should have received an email letting you know about this, but they can found online at:

What support is available to help me during this exam period?

The University and Kent Union are offering a wide range of services to help you throughout this exam period, many of which are featured in the May edition of the University's Student e-newsletter which you should have received earlier this week. This edition includes information about the exam process itself as well as advice and assistance with study support, wellbeing and looking after your mental health. If you've missed the email, you can find it online:

Fees and finance

[Updated] - Will I be able to claim a refund of my tuition fees due to the industrial action?

We are not considering any form of reduction in fees or compensation as we are confident that once the Boards of Examiners have met, the impact of the action on student marks, academic progress and degree classification will have been fully mitigated.

This follows a University-wide process to collect and assess information on the impact of the industrial action and how this has been mitigated by each School. These findings have been used to compile detailed reports which will be used by Boards of Examiners when confirming your marks and making decisions on academic progress and degree classifications. Your School will have recently emailed you with more information about what this has meant for your modules.

These impact assessments have been made following a thorough investigation of each module. If, having read the impact summaries for your modules, you are concerned that the impact levels and mitigation have not been accurately recorded, please contact ImpactAssessments@kent.ac.uk.

If you feel that there are particular circumstances that have affected you that have not been appropriately taken into account by our mitigation, Kent Union are providing an advice and support service. Further information is available on their website -  http://www.kentunion.co.uk/strike.

[Updated] - Can I be reimbursed for costs incurred trying to attend classes and assessments that were cancelled?

We are aware that there are a number of students who incurred expenditure, such as travel or child care costs, to attend a lecture or seminar which was then cancelled as a result of the industrial action. We have now introduced a system to allow you to submit a claim to have this money reimbursed.

How to claim expenses.

[Updated] - What is happening to the money saved from staff salaries? Is the University making a profit?

As some of you may be aware, the University withheld salary from the staff who took part in the action. Despite that, we will not have benefitted financially from this dispute.

We are aware that there are a number of students who incurred expenditure, such as travel or child care costs, to attend a lecture or seminar which was then cancelled as a result of the industrial action. We have now introduced a system to allow you to submit a claim to have this money reimbursed - How to claim expenses.

In discussion with Kent Union we will be using the remainder of the money on student focussed activities and services that, through your feedback, we know students would value. This will include student hardship funds, additional IT and library services and further enhancements to the student experience within Academic Schools. These will be agreed with the Union and we will announce them as soon as we can.

As a number of students on modules affected by the action were due to finish their course this year, following discussion with Kent Union we are sending them a goodwill gesture in the form of an Amazon.co.uk e-voucher.

If you feel that there are particular circumstances that have affected you that have not been appropriately taken into account by our mitigation, Kent Union are providing an advice and support service. Further information is available on their website -  http://www.kentunion.co.uk/strike.

Information for International Students

I am attending the University on a Tier 4 student visa. Will the action affect my visa status?

Please assume all classes are being taught unless told otherwise. As long as you continue to attend all contact and engagement points wherever possible, your visa status will be unaffected by the industrial action. Your academic school will issue the necessary authorised absences for contact points affected by the action.

My attendance record is important to my funding body/home university. Will the action affect this?

Unless you hear otherwise you should attend all classes as usual. Please do not assume that anything has been cancelled unless you have been directly informed by your lecturer, seminar leader, supervisor or a school administrator (eg even if a lecture has been cancelled, the associated seminars might not be).

If the lecturer or seminar leader does not arrive within 10 minutes of the scheduled start time, then you can assume the class has been cancelled. We suggest that you might use the time and the teaching space to self-organise into student-led seminar sessions. It may well be useful to discuss coursework assignments and progress towards these or identify key themes or approaches from previous sessions that relate to the assignment or overall learning objectives of the module.

As long as you continue to attend all your classes wherever possible, your attendance record will be unaffected by the industrial action. Your academic school will make sure all cancellations due to the industrial action are noted appropriately.

I'm an exchange student. How will this affect the number of credits I need to take back to my university?

We are not expecting the action to have any effect on your credits at this time, but we will monitor the situation. If you are in any way concerned, please contact International Partnerships.

I am a sponsored student. Will my funding be affected by the industrial action?

We don't expect any funding scheme to be affected by this action, but if you have any communications from your sponsors in regard to this industrial action, you can come and discuss it with a member of International Recruitment.

Information for students who teach

For students who teach, we hope the faqs below will help summarise the position. Full information for staff can be found on the HR website.

Students on GTA contracts

Am I entitled to join the industrial action?

Students employed on GTA contracts are as entitled to join the industrial action as any other members of the UCU.

Will my pay be withheld if I strike?

The University will not withhold pay from GTAs who take strike action.

Will my pay be withheld if I take action short of a strike?

There will be no deductions from the pay of GTAs for anything that constitutes action short of a strike (ASOS).

This includes working to contract and refusing to undertake voluntary duties, refusing to cover for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule classes.

The University has also decided not to penalise any members of staff for action short of a strike during this period of industrial action.

What paperwork is there for GTAs to fill in?

  1. Any member of staff participating in strike action is asked to fill in the Declaration of strike action form - log in to Staff Connect using your staff login and password and select 'Industrial Action Forms' from the menu.
  2. Any member of staff participating in Action Short of Strike (ASOS) is asked to fill in the Declaration of ASOS form - log in to Staff Connect using your staff login and password and select 'Industrial Action Forms' from the menu.
  3. Should you wish to reschedule any cancelled teaching by arrangement with your Head of School, you can fill out a Record of Hours Not Worked (GTAs) form so that you can subsequently be offered to run those rescheduled classes.

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 1227 764000

Last Updated: 14/06/2018