Industrial action is scheduled to take place at some higher education providers on a number of days in February and March 2020. We understand that this can be a worrying time for students. We hope the guidance below may be helpful to you. 

How do I know if my university or college is involved in industrial action?

Your higher education provider should tell you if it is involved in the industrial action.  You can also find out by checking the information on the UCU website.

What will the industrial action mean for me?

It is possible that teaching and supervision will not take place on the days of industrial action. Some access to facilities such as libraries, laboratories, IT provision could also be affected. The impact will be different at every higher education provider and may be different across different faculties and departments, depending on which members of staff are taking action.  

Your higher education provider should keep you informed about what is happening, so it’s important to check their website and your email or Virtual Learning Environment for regular updates. Higher education providers can’t demand to be told in advance who will be taking industrial action, so you may get updates at short notice. 

Be careful not to make assumptions, for example that your classes will be cancelled or that submission deadlines that fall within the period of industrial action will be extended. You may still need to follow the usual process to ask for an extension if you need more time to submit some work, if for example a tutorial was delayed because of the industrial action. If you are in doubt, ask a member of staff in your department or contact your students’ union for advice.

I have to meet attendance requirements for my visa. How does the industrial action affect this?

Home Office guidance issued in 2019 confirms that if an “expected contact” such as a lecture, seminar or individual supervisory discussion can’t go ahead because of the industrial action, this will not be recorded as an unauthorised absence. You can find out more on the UKCISA website.  

How can I complain if I have been affected by the industrial action?

Your higher education provider will have a complaints process that you can use to raise your concerns. It will usually be available on their website. If you are not sure how to find this or what to do first, your students’ union can usually provide some advice and support.   

If a number of students have all been affected by the industrial action in the same way (for example, a group of students on the same module or course) you may be able to complain as a group. 

You might not be able to complain before the industrial action takes place. Your university or college may ask you to wait to see exactly how your studies were disrupted and whether it can take action to put the situation right. It should also tell you if you need to use any alternative processes.

Keep a record of exactly how the industrial action affected you as this may help your university or college to look at your complaint more quickly.

When your higher education provider has given you its final decision about your complaint, you can complain to us if you are not satisfied. We have a complaint form specially for complaints about industrial action. Please use this when starting a new complaint in MyOIA.

Will I get a refund of tuition fees?

Your provider may do several things to try to ensure that you are not disadvantaged because of the industrial action. They may be able to re-schedule missed teaching or offer a different way to deliver the content. Providers may also take the industrial action into account when deciding how to carry out assessments. You might not be entitled to a financial remedy if the provider is able to take steps to put things right another way.

Your provider might offer you a financial remedy, particularly if it is unable to take any other action to put the situation right.   

You can see more information about our approach to putting things right for students affected by industrial action in these case summaries

I need some extra help. Where can I go?

We understand that the prospect of industrial action can be worrying for some students. If you need some additional support, your students’ union may be able to help you, or direct you to other sources of help. You may also be able to access help from your provider’s usual welfare and support departments.

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For complaints relating to industrial action you can use our our dedicated complaint form in MyOIA. If you have any questions please call us on 0118 959 9813 or email