Strike action information for students

Guidance for students who may be affected by strike action. We will continue to keep this page updated.


Latest updates

There is currently no industrial action at Sheffield.

We continue to work with our local trade union colleagues to help make Sheffield a great place to work and study.

Read more about what we're doing

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What to expect during this period of strike action

Strike action (sometimes referred to as industrial action) is legal action taken by members of a trade union in protest against their employer. The most common form of action is strike action.

During strike action, some staff refuse to work and may join picket lines to protest. This can sometimes lead to some teaching being cancelled on days when University teachers are taking strike action.

During this time, the University, including our libraries, study spaces, and facilities, will remain open as normal.

Action short of a strike

Action short of a strike is when trade union members engage in an action that falls short of a full withdrawal of labour.

Picket lines

A picket line is a form of protest where people congregate at a location, in this case usually outside University buildings where they usually work, to draw public attention to their cause. 

Staff on picket lines should not stop you from entering a building or prevent your access to any part of the campus to attend your class or other activities. No staff member wants to disrupt students’ education and these picket lines should not feel intimidating.

Picketing is a legal form of protest but if you feel intimidated in any way, or witness any behaviour you find concerning, please contact our Security team to raise a concern.

What the strike action is about

The University and College Union (UCU) is seeking a new mandate for industrial action related to pay and working conditions. If successful, members of UCU across nearly 150 institutions will be able to take strike action.

This is a complex area and these national issues are of concern to us in Sheffield as well as across the higher education sector. Read about the positive progress we have been making here at Sheffield.

We continue to work closely with our trade union colleagues locally, with the aim of helping to make Sheffield a great place to work and study.

Learning and teaching during strike action

Every effort will be made to avoid disruption, but in some cases, your teaching could be cancelled at the last moment or with very little notice. This is because, under British law, anyone undertaking strike action does not have to notify their employer in advance. 

Most teaching will go ahead as usual but, in the event of teaching being cancelled due to strike action, your department will email in advance wherever possible, as they would with any staff absence. 

Unless you have prior notice of cancellation, you should attend every class or lecture as normal.

You will not be recorded as absent if a class is cancelled due to strike action. This means, if you’re an international student with a Tier 4 visa or Student visa, it will not be affected. 

If your teaching is cancelled we encourage you to still come to the University to study and use our facilities such as the library and Students’ Union.

Information for Postgraduate research students

During strike action, the University will remain open and most supervision and training will go ahead as usual. Please assume that all activities will take place unless your supervisor or department notify you otherwise.

Some postgraduate research students also have roles as staff, such as Graduate Teaching Assistants. You may be taking strike action and should follow the guidance issued by your Head of Department if this is the case.

Support during strike action

Industrial action can be a challenging time for the University community, and strike action may cause uncertainty and stress on top of your studies. Your wellbeing is our priority, and the University will do everything it can to help support you.

If you’re feeling down, overwhelmed or struggling to adjust to these changing circumstances, our Student Wellbeing Service can offer tailored one-to-one support to help you make sense of what you’re experiencing.

If the strike action is significantly affecting your mental health, please do not hesitate to contact our Mental Health, Counselling and Therapies Service.

Financial reimbursement for out of pocket expenses

If you have incurred travel or childcare costs to attend a lecture or meeting on campus and on arrival found that it had been cancelled with no notice because of industrial action, you can apply to be reimbursed. To be eligible you'll need to have had no other reason to attend campus (for example, other classes or meetings that were not cancelled) and will need to provide evidence to confirm your costs (for example, travel tickets).

Please complete the reimbursement form to make a claim.

Questions about strike action

If your question relates to your lectures/seminars, or a course assessment you are due to submit, you should contact your academic department directly.

If you have a question about strike action that is not covered on this page, you can contact our Industrial Action Enquiry Centre via the following webform:

Ask about industrial action

We will continue to keep this page updated with the latest information on industrial action.