Information and updates on industrial action at the University of Bristol.
The University of Bristol has been in a period of industrial action. There are currently no further dates planned.
On this page:
About industrial action
Industrial action can include:
- strikes, where a trade union member does not attend work on a specific date/s
- action short of strike (ASOS), where a member only works contracted hours but does not volunteer to do more.
Not all staff are members of a trade union, and not all trade union members participate in strikes.
The University remains open on strike days and many arrangements, including teaching and student services, operate normally.
We will contact you through your University of Bristol email if we become aware that any teaching or individual appointments are cancelled.
However, staff are under no legal obligation to inform us ahead of time, so there may be occasions when we cannot provide advance notice.
If you have a student visa, any cancelled classes or contact points will be recorded as an authorised absence with a note to say that this is due to industrial action.
Contact our International Student Visa Advisers with any questions.
Marking and assessment boycott (MAB) and results
A marking and assessment boycott took place between 20 April and 6 September 2023.
Some schools had little to no participation, but some areas experienced a greater impact.
All final year students now have a classified degree. However, a number of students were significantly impacted by the boycott and had delays to their classifications or awards. Read the July 2023 statement from our Vice-Chancellor.
Allocation of marking is undertaken in Schools. Markers must be appropriately qualified, trained and supported to carry out marking in line with the University’s expectations and our obligations under the Office for Students (OfS) conditions of registration. At the institutional level, we assure the quality of marking through our moderation processes.
Our temporary regulations allowed for a classified award to be made providing that only a small proportion of marks was still outstanding. We always ensured that students had evidenced their completion of the expected learning outcomes for each programme before an award was made.
You can appeal decisions that the Board of Examiners take, but only for specific reasons. Disagreement with the academic judgement (e.g disagreement with a mark for a piece of work) is not valid grounds for an appeal. You can appeal if you believe that there has been a material irregularity or some other specific circumstances.
Find out more about making an appeal, including the form to complete.
If you have been impacted by the delay of your results due to the marking and assessment boycott, you may be able to submit a late complaint request.
If you have any questions, contact your supervisor or Faculty PGR Director.
Arts: Dr Damien Mooney, firstname.lastname@example.org
Engineering: DrFlavia De Luca, email@example.com
Life Sciences: Dr Stephanie King, firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Sciences: Professor Tom Gaunt, email@example.com
Science: Professor Walther Schwarzacher, firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Sciences & Law: Dr AngelikiPapadaki, email@example.com.
For more information on MAB and Universities and College Union (UCU) strike action, you can visit the Bristol SU UCU strikes page.
Mitigating the impact of industrial action on your studies
Your school has been monitoring any teaching or assessment activities that have been affected by industrial action and has made arrangements to minimise the impact upon you as much as possible.
Possible mitigations include:
- providing alternative learning opportunities
- substituting teaching activities
- revising the format and/or content of your assessments
- extending coursework and project deadlines
- changing the weighting of a particular assessment in your overall results.
Anything we put in place needs to be fair to all our students, practically feasible and in keeping with the standards that underpin the quality of your degree.
The Board of Examiners will know the full details of the impact of the strike and will ensure that any mitigation is fair and reasonable in its decision-making. The Board can also apply further mitigation if necessary. Your academic outcomes will be safeguarded.
If you have further concerns, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Industrial action reimbursement fund
Students who experience disruption due to the industrial action are eligible to claim from the industrial action reimbursement fund for costs incurred, for example, childcare, subsistence and travel.
Complaints should be raised promptly and within 30 days of the matter complained of. Industrial action concluded more than 30 days ago.
UCU had a mandate for Action Short of Strike (ASOS) until 30 September 2023, and the marking and assessment boycott started on 20 April and finished on 6 September 2023.
If you still wish to make a complaint and have good reason for missing the 30-day deadline you can complete a late complaint request form setting out your good reason for not submitting during the specified time frame and submit it to email@example.com.
If you have further queries about the complaints process, email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you.
Formal complaints will be considered in accordance with the Student Complaints Procedure (PDF, 179 KB).
We understand that the impact of industrial action will vary between students. In reviewing your complaint we will consider whether we have a full picture of the impact of industrial action and what appropriate measures in mitigation were put in place. We will keep you updated on the timeframe in which you should expect to receive the outcome of your complaint.
You can also seek independent support from the SU's Academic Advice service.
The University participates in a national bargaining arrangement to agree the annual pay award. As one of 147 employers in the scheme, we are represented by UCEA, who negotiate with all the unions on our behalf.
With our union colleagues, we have made progress on issues like closing the gender pay gap and reducing casualisation in our workforce.
The negotiated pay award for 2022/23 was not agreed by all unions representing HE staff. However, it was felt to be fair and reasonable collectively by employers and was implemented in Bristol in August 2022. The pay award ranged between 3% and 9% depending on pay grade. In addition, a significant percentage of staff also received an annual incremental award.
Negotiations for the 2023/24 pay award ended in February. The final award was also not agreed by unions. This new pay award amounts to an increase in salaries of 5% - 8% depending on pay grade.
In addressing the other elements of the pay claim, we have been working closely with our Union representatives to make progress. At the national level UCEA have also proposed terms of reference for negotiations on these issues with a view to reaching sector wide agreements. The Unions have been consulting on whether they wish to enter those negotiations, a condition of which would be the suspension of further industrial action.
USS pension scheme
The USS Trustee proposed significantly increased contribution rates based on a valuation of the scheme made in March 2020. The increased contribution rates would make the scheme unaffordable for many members and university employers. The valuation of the scheme and the subsequent recommendations from the USS Trustee are disputed by UCU.
We have had direct conversations with the USS Trustee and lobbied hard through UUK, who sit on the Joint Negotiating Committee alongside UCU and the USS Trustee, to keep the scheme affordable and to challenge the scheme governance and seek reform.
We supported the proposal put forward by Universities UK (UUK) which recommended lower contribution rates for members than those proposed by the USS Trustees, and we were supportive of employers paying a higher share of contribution increases to help conclude the current scheme valuation. The UUK proposal was legally accepted by the USS Trustee in March 2022.
However, the proposal included cuts to pension benefits for USS members. UCU rejected the proposal and put forward an alternative plan which was not supported by the Joint Negotiating Committee.
We are one of 340 organisations that are part of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), so any changes would need to be agreed by USS and the Pensions Regulator. For Bristol, every 1% additional contribution to the scheme would cost around £1.5m.
Universities UK (UUK, representing employers) and UCU negotiated for many months on how to address pension costs and retain benefits for members. In March they issued a joint statement regarding their aims in light of an anticipated improvement in the valuation of the pension fund.
We continue to protect staff benefits by working with our Staff Pension Working Group and the local UCU branch to advocate keeping cost increases to an absolute minimum, and only where necessary.