The Universities and College Union (UCU), which represents the employees of many universities in the U.K., recently announced an industrial action, or strike, in response to labor disputes over pay, workload, and pensions, among others. This is a continuation of actions which began in the fall of 2019. The planned strikes will occur across 14 days in four weeks extending from late February to mid-March.
Seventy-four institutions across the U.K. are involved, though the impact varies by institution. If you are studying in the U.K. this semester, you might wonder how this will affect your studies. All IFSA students at impacted institutions received information from their resident director. We advise you to check with your specific institution as they may have instructions as well.
What You Should Do During the Strikes
You should continue your studies as normal, unless you are told otherwise. This means that you should aim to attend scheduled teaching, complete and submit assessments by the relevant deadlines, and continue to plan for any examinations.
If any of your scheduled lectures are cancelled, your seminars, tutorials and labs may still be running – be sure to confirm with your online course resources and/or department staff. Besides these, you should use all available course resources to continue your learning independently. You should work on the assumption that subsequent scheduled teaching activities will proceed as normal, unless you are advised otherwise by your department or school.
Our Top Tips for Success Amidst the Strikes
- Be Pro-Active – Review all PowerPoints or slides and distill and refine your notes. Note any areas of confusion and make appointments with instructors during office hours to discuss on non-strike days.
- Past Exam Papers are available via your institution’s library. These are an excellent resource to get a sense of expectations and the standard of work that past students have submitted for your modules. The past exam papers are equally valuable for both exams and essays, regardless of the strike.
- University Writing Center – Consult the library on campus to inquire about writing center support available during the strikes. Writing center staff can advise on outlining, referencing, structure and forming your arguments. You are writing for a different audience, so regardless of the strikes, this is a great resource to consult.
- Online Course Materials – While lectures may be cancelled, you will have access to valuable module-specific resources for each of your modules via your host institution’s online learning portal. You may also find module-specific updates relating to the strike here so stay engaged.
- Study Groups – Reach out to your fellow classmates to review materials, share notes and read over each other’s work.
- Local IFSA Staff – Your local IFSA resident staff can be a great resource. Contact them with questions or just to talk through your academics and how to navigate your studies.
What You Shouldn’t Be Doing During the Strikes
Please do not use any cancelled classes as an opportunity to travel. The expectation of students in the U.K. is that you will undertake independent, self-directed study alongside lectures, seminars, tutorials and labs. Now is the time to embrace that approach – your success depends upon it.
This is not the first time students studying in the U.K. have worked through strikes like this during the semester. The IFSA staff are adept at advising students through it, and students have achieved good marks despite the disruption by giving time and priority to their studies and employing the above tips. Reach out to the local IFSA resident team if you need help or have questions. They are prepared to assist you!