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Spring 2023: UCU Industrial Action

Over 150 universities across the UK will strike for 18 days this term.

This article contains the following information: 

What is the UCU?

What is happening, and when?

Why is this happening?

What can I do if I need support?

What about my assignments? Can I get an EC?

What can I do to show solidarity?

Will there be another round of the Strike Assessment Scheme and a separate complaints process, like there was for the 2021/22 industrial action?

What about students who complained during the 2021/22 Industrial Action (last academic year)?


What is the UCU? 

The University and College Union (UCU) is a trade union for university staff. They represent over 120,000 academics, lecturers, instructors, researchers, administrators, professional staff and postgraduate research students across universities and colleges in the UK. 

Most universities have their own local UCU branch that represents the staff working at their respective universities. Each local branch is a member of the national UCU office, where they vote on policies and motions such as strike action. 

Learn more about the local Goldsmiths UCU branch here


What is happening, and when? 

Earlier this academic year, the UCU ballotted at a national level for industrial action, receding a mandate for industrial action this academic year. Over 150 universities across the UK will strike for 18 days this term over pay, working conditions and pensions.

Strike action is planned on the following dates in February and March this year:

  • 1 Feb Wednesday

  • 9 Feb Thursday, 10 Feb Friday

  • 14, 15, 16 Feb (Tuesday - Thursday)

  • 21, 22, 23 Feb (Tuesday - Thursday)

  • 27, 28 Feb & 1, 2 March (Monday - Thursday of the same week)

  • 16, 17 March (Thursday - Friday)

  • 20, 21, 22 March (Monday - Wednesday)

During strike action, staff will walk out. Classes and assessments are likely to be cancelled, and College functions may shut down. You may want to check ahead of time with your tutors and other College services. The SU will still be running, and SU spaces will be open as usual. The SU is not picketed.

We created a dedicated calendar so you can visualise and plan ahead.

Download the term + strikes planning calendar here.


Why is this happening? 

This round of industrial action comes after UCU members overwhelmingly voted 'yes' last month in two historic national ballots over issues of pay, working conditions and pension cuts. According to the UCU, “employers imposed a pay rise worth just 3% this year following over a decade of below inflation pay awards. A third of academic staff are on some form of temporary contract” (UCU, 2022). The mandate ends in April 2023. 

Deteriorating working conditions for staff have and are continuing to affect students. Staff do not have the capacity to deliver the teaching students deserve and are promised. At Goldsmiths, the 2021/22 round of industrial action locally and nationally pushed back against unfair working conditions, redundancies and centralisation of administrative services by the Goldsmiths Senior Management Team (SMT) as part of their Recovery Plan. While SMT eventually committed to no further redundancies, centralisation of student-facing administration was still put through, including an increase in the membership of SMT. Students ended up experiencing the brunt of the centralisation which saw the Student Centre dissolve and department business administrators dismissed for a new centralised school-based hub structure. Where each department would previously have handled their own administration, such as processing of extenuating circumstances and grades, students now have to direct their requests and issues to a centralised school hub and await processing by the registry. 

The large number of emails and under-resourced staff have resulted in extensive delays and wait times with extremely critical impact, as we have seen over last summer, where many students were unable to graduate on time, receive their student finance/funding, enrol or progress. The precarity continues as many students are still waiting for their appeals to be processed, to be enrolled, or to hear back on their emails or complaints. These delays on the new centralised official admin processes result in a large number of anonymous mailboxes and a lack of response. Students turn to their tutors, staff in their department as well as the SU for support and personal contact, as official procedures do not accord them the answers they need or respect they deserve. However, resources and power have been taken away from department staff by the SMT’s financial-first narrative. This means staff are severely overworked, underpaid, and left to pick up the pieces of an incompetent structure that does not serve its purpose, all while College Management continues to receive large amounts of salaries. Strikes are a withdrawal of labour that intend to disrupt the notion that people should be underpaid and overworked. We have seen and experienced how staff working conditions directly influence and impact students’ learning conditions. Goldsmiths SU stands in solidarity with striking staff. 


What can I do if I need support? 

We understand that strikes disrupt student life and routine, and that having to go through this is frustrating. As a result, we understand that you may require various types of assistance during this time. Along with the term calendar, we’ve created some resources below.

1. College Procedure & Student Support Flowchart

We have designed a flowchart with links to help you navigate which College internal procedure and/or support department you may need to engage with. The SU will also provide updates as they come. Should you meet with any issues or have feedback from engaging in any College procedure or support service, write to

Download the flowchart here.

View the text version here.

2. Disruption Diary 

After the last strike, we learned that for students to have a better chance of receiving compensation, they need to document everything they have missed and all experiences of disruption - to then complain after the strike ends to stand the strongest chance. 

We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep as detailed as possible a record of the impact of the disruption on you, from wellbeing to learning and student experience. This will have a direct impact on the outcome you receive down the road of the complaints process. 

Make sure you keep copies of any associated evidence or cost, such as train tickets, work shift timetables, emails from the College (or lack thereof), etc. Make a copy of this template and fill it out in as much detail as possible. 

Download the Disruption Diary template here.

3. Community

The SU will still be running, and SU spaces will be open as usual. The SU is not picketed. Stay connected to our socials for updates on events, or simply come to the SU and spend time in our spaces.

There may be talks and conversation spaces on the picket line where you can find community and engage in conversations with others going through similar experiences. More details on these will come from Goldsmiths UCU.

If you are facing any specific issues, please feel free to reach out to the sabbatical officers at and the SU Advice Service at, and we'll do our best to support you. 


What about my assignments? Can I get an EC? 

There has been a change to the Extenuating Circumstances (EC) Policy for the 2022-23 Academic Year. Decisions on EC applications are now taken by a central team. The application process for an EC is still through MyGoldsmiths. 

Decisions on EC applications are normally made within five working days. However, the centralisation has and is expected to cause delays in processing. According to the College, “the central team handling ECs are prioritising applications for extensions against submission deadlines to ensure that students receive decisions in advance of the assessment deadline, unless a student has submitted an EC application after the deadline, which is permitted within the Policy”. 

The centralised structure is not capable of anticipating any influx of EC applications that may come from the strikes and any related disruption. In our most recent communications about this with the College, we are told that: “The College does not normally recognise industrial action as an acceptable category under the Extenuating Circumstances Policy.  This is because other mitigations are put in place as needed where assessments might be impacted by industrial action.  For example, by adjusting the submission deadline for all students if necessary, and/or adjusting the content/requirements of an assessment as necessary.”

The SU does not agree with this and are pushing the College to change this. We will provide updates as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you expect to apply for an EC, we would advise: 

  1. Read through the EC Policy, which can be found here: Think through your circumstances and consider applying for an EC under reasons that apply to you and are considered acceptable according to the policy. 

  2. Under EC Policy, ECs are still self-certifying. This means that “students do not need to provide evidence of their extenuating circumstances. Instead, students must self-certify by providing a written statement to explain their circumstances, and then to explain the impact those circumstances have had on their assessments.” However, the centralisation of processing leaves much to be desired in terms of administrative standards. From our experience last academic year, we had heard of students who were asked for evidence. This should not happen at all, and any student who is asked for evidence as part of their EC application should write to, and engage with the SU Advice service for support. At the same time, there is an urgency of obtaining an EC and the uncertainty of processing. As such, you may consider engaging with your GP, therapist or wellbeing adviser early on impact, and request for any form of signed documentation of impact to your mental and/or physical health. This may still become useful eventually, in such situations as your application getting rejected, or to complain and seek compensation later.


What can I do to show solidarity? 

You can show solidarity by: 

  1. Engaging with the strike action by attending and creating spaces of alternative learning both on the picket line and beyond

  2. Writing to SMT and Council about the experiences 

  3. Use all avenues of appeals and complaints available 

Updates from Goldsmiths UCU will come to: and 


Will there be another round of the Strike Assessment Scheme and a separate complaints process, like there was for the 2021/22 industrial action? 

At present, we do not have confirmation if the College plans to engage in the Strike Compensations process again or not. It is written on the College’s website that: 

“UCU has a legal right to take industrial action under the current mandate until April 2023, and has strongly committed to further action during this time unless an agreement can be reached nationally. Given this, Goldsmiths is not planning to consider complaints related to this period of industrial action until the mandate has concluded in Spring, to allow us to fairly take into account all and any impact on students which may occur. We will keep this position under review.” 

Updates from the College on any compensation or complaints process related to the 2022/23 Industrial Action will come to this page on the website: 

The SU is seeking information and will also update as soon as we hear any developments.


What about students who complained during the 2021/22 Industrial Action (last academic year)? 

For students who submitted complaints relating to the industrial action that occurred in the 2021/22 Academic Year, the Strike Complaints Panels have happened. You may expect to hear an outcome in the coming months. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint, you may escalate to the OIA for review. Once the outcomes have been sent out, the SU will create a form for students who wish to escalate to the OIA. More information will follow.