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

13 September

From 18-29 September, the University and College Union (UCU), a trade union representing some University staff, is taking strike action.

  • During this time, the University, including our libraries, study spaces and facilities, will remain open as normal.
  • You should arrive at University on time. 
  • Continue to complete all your registration tasks.
  • If you’re a new student, the majority of Welcome and induction events will take place as planned. 
  • Assume your teaching, supervision, or training is going ahead as normal, unless your department informs you otherwise.

Read below to find out about what strike action is and how it may affect you

Read the latest update (13 September)

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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 - this is what members of the University and College Union (UCU) can participate in during this period.

In this instance, it means that members taking part in the strike action will be working to contracted hours and duties, not taking on voluntary activities, not covering for absent colleagues, removing uploaded materials and/or not sharing materials related to lectures or classes that will or have been cancelled as a result of strike action, and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action.

Picket lines

A picket line is a form of protest where people congregate at a location, in this case usually outside University buildings, 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

Following a ballot of its members in March 2023, the University and College Union (UCU) obtained renewed mandates for industrial action. Members of UCU across nearly 150 institutions are able to take strike action during these disputes.

Sheffield’s branch of the University and College Union (UCU) will call on members here to take continuous strike action in the first two weeks of the new semester; 18-22 and 25-29 September (intro week and week one). This is local action in response to the approach taken to pay deductions for participants in the marking and assessment boycott, which has now been called off.

We have also received formal notification from the national UCU office, that members are also being asked to take strike days from 25-29 September. This action relates to their mandate on pay and related matters. 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. 

When to expect the strike action

UCU members at Sheffield will be able to take strike action from 18-29 September 2023, in a combination of local and national action.

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

We understand this can be a challenging time for the University community, and that 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.

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. We will also keep you updated via University social media:

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