Industrial action 

The national dispute over USS pensions reform led to the Universities and College Union (UCU) calling upon their members to participate in industrial action.

The first phase of industrial action concluded on Friday 16 March 2018. A second wave of strike action was scheduled to take place over the summer term but was suspended following a breakthrough in the negotiations on Friday 13 April 2018, meaning you will not be affected by further disruption during your summer study and exam period.

We have developed a revised set of Q&As to provide answers to the typical questions we have received following the suspension of industrial action. If you don't find an answer to your question here please email industrialactionqueries@york.ac.uk.

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Frequently asked questions

Will I need to apply for Exceptional Circumstances Affecting Assessment if I feel I've been affected?

If your teaching has been affected by the industrial action, then Exceptional Circumstances Committees can consider the impact on whole assessments, but this will be monitored and initiated by the department.

If you have personal circumstances other than the industrial action, or personal circumstances which have been compounded by the industrial action, you can of course apply for Exceptional Circumstances Affecting Assessment in the normal way. You will need to provide independent third party evidence of the circumstances and their impact on you. The existence of the industrial action will not, in itself, be considered an exceptional circumstance except for whole cohorts taking a module.

Will markers be more lenient?

We aren’t expecting that they’ll have to be. Departments will be adapting assessments, if necessary, to remove material where the teaching hasn’t been available. So, you’ll only be assessed on what you’ve been taught, with priority being given to the things that have been determined to be the most important skills and knowledge you can reasonably expect to have achieved in your degree. You will be told immediately if any sections of the syllabus are being removed from the assessment so that you can plan your revision accordingly.

But, given that the assessments are being set according to what you’ve been taught, we expect to retain the same high academic standards that will ensure the quality of your degree.

Now action is suspended what will you do about the impact of the strike action?

The University has undertaken an institution-wide census of all modules to determine what, if any impact has been felt for each module being offered by departments, and what measures departments have put in place where impacts have been felt.

Options available for departments:

  • Rescheduled teaching or teaching delivered through alternative routes
  • Waiving a specified percentage of the assessment
  • Granting extensions
  • Removing material that has not been taught from assessments

Departments should now be in a position to understand if any additional mitigation is required for specific cohorts of students.

Will I get an extension to the deadline for my assignments?

Departments have considered the impact of any missed teaching on deadlines for assignments. In some cases, they have determined that whole cohorts have been affected by missed teaching, and that an extension could mitigate that effect. Where this is the case, they have offered extensions to all students by the power of the Exceptional Circumstance Committee. Where this has not been offered for all students, it is because either the effect of the industrial action has already been mitigated in other ways, or because departments believe that there has been no impact which can be mitigated by extra time.

If you have personal circumstances other than the industrial action, or personal circumstances which have been compounded by the industrial action, you can of course apply for Exceptional Circumstances Affecting Assessment in the normal way. You will need to provide independent third party evidence of the circumstances and their impact on you. The existence of the industrial action will not, in itself, be considered an exceptional circumstance except for whole cohorts taking a module.

Will lost teaching be taken into account during exams and assessments?

Yes. Boards of Studies have been advised to consider what has been missed, and to adjust assessments accordingly. For some modules, this has meant removing questions where material hasn’t been covered, and for others, it means ensuring that there is adequate choice in the assessments to guarantee that students will not be required to write on material that hasn’t been covered.
In keeping with the University’s commitment to maintaining academic standards, marks will not be changed or increased in response to the industrial action, instead the University is committed to ensuring assessments accurately reflect a student’s achievements on the learning outcomes for the course.

Will my exams take place as normal?

Yes. The examination schedule has been released, and all exams will go ahead as planned.

Will my supervisor now be available?

Yes. All staff have returned to regular working patterns. 

If your supervisor was unavailable during the period of action and you require their support for your studies, assignments or dissertation, you should contact your supervisor to make necessary arrangements to meet to discuss progress.

Will strike action happen again?

The UCU have maintained their mandate for industrial action, but suspended the action itself. This means that they are not currently taking action, and have no immediate plans to do so, but could take action again any time before 19 June 2018 if they give the University 14 days notice. However, the University, UUK and the UCU are hopeful that the current resolution will hold.

Will I be able to graduate?

Departments have worked very hard to mitigate the effects of the industrial action so far on students. If no further action is taken, we believe that all marks will be available in time for students to graduate.

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