What is Happening And Why

Update 25 September 2023:

The Union Forum took place as planned on September 21 and was attended by the Union’s elected officer team and students. After an interesting discussion where the meeting heard from students and also listened to statements from the UCU, the Union’s Officer team voted to continue to support the strike action should this occur in the future. This means our position on the strike action is unchanged. You can read more about the strike action and the Union’s position below.

Update 21 September 2023:

The Higher Education Committee in UCU, on Friday 15 September, announced to branches that they would have the right to decide if they would wish to call off strike action locally.

The vote for this at Surrey closed at 12:00 on 20 September and as such the majority have voted to call off locally. This is not to say that they wish for the dispute to be over and there is a clear message given by members that the dispute must be resolved over the course of the next academic year so that both employers and unions will reach a fair negotiated pay deal.

Union Forum will still proceed as planned as it is recognised that future industrial action may still take place and we want to know the views of our members, should this happen.

Update 19 September 2023:

The Student’s Union is holding an all student meeting called Union Forum on Thursday 21 September to establish what action, if any, our members would like to take.

Union Forum | 21 September 2023 | 17:00 – 18:00 | Teams

If you are unable to attend but would still like to have your say, you can fill in our feedback form here

Update: 7 September 2023

Information for all students:

  • In England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some Scottish institutions, staff at participating universities will strike between 25 and 29 September, including the University of Surrey. 
  • The UCU has also confirmed it has now ended its marking and assessment boycott.
  • Please get in touch with ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk if you have any questions or concerns.

The elected representatives on UCU’s higher education committee (HEC) decided to call for strike action in September 2023 over the national pay and working conditions dispute (‘UCU Rising’).

Action short of a strike (ASOS) remains on and will involve the following:

  • working to contract
  • not covering for absent colleagues
  • removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action
  • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
  • not undertaking any voluntary activities.

The marking and assessment boycott (MAB) that began on Thursday 20 April 2023 has been withdrawn on Wednesday 6 September 2023.

ASOS encompasses the following, so please take time to read through all the ASOS FAQs: UCU – FAQs

The University’s response can be found here.


The University of Surrey has been impacted by strike action this year alongside 149 other UK Universities.

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) is in dispute with 150 universities over the issues of pay, pensions and working conditions. 

The initial industrial action is the outcome of two national ballot results by the UCU, which concluded in October 2022. The first ballot was conducted by UCU with reference to the USS pension dispute. The second ballot concerned the 2022/23 National Pay Award as well as issues relating to pay equality and workload.

Both ballots resulted in UCU having a mandate for industrial action. The University’s UCU Industrial Action 2022-23 page will be updated with any news or information as it changes.

UCU is demanding a meaningful pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living crisis as well as action to end the use of insecure contracts.

When is this happening

A continuous period of action short of a strike (ASOS), (types listed at the top of the page), will begin on 25th September at the earliest and will continue until the end of the mandate or a resolution to the national dispute is secured (whichever is earlier).

How can I get Involved?

If you support the UCU’s objectives you can get involved by joining staff on the picket line. On strike days, staff usually host picket lines on campus to demonstrate why they are striking.

If you would like to show your support on the strike days, please make your way to the ‘Stag’ entrance and find a picket supervisor (in yellow tabards). Supporters are very welcome to pop by and say hello.

As a student you can also use your voice to email University management; You can explain how the strikes affect you and that you want them to bring them to an end. You don’t need to write pages and pages, something short and to the point will be more effective.

What should I do if i am affected or worried about this strike action?

  • Every effort will be made by the university to mitigate the disruption to you and your degree.
  • Where disruption does occur, the University will do all it can to catch up any missed tuition or the content delivered by rescheduling as soon as is possible.
  • Please ensure you remain aware of any communications from the university or your Academic Hive with alternative plans or timetable changes. The University’s FAQ page will be updated with any news or information as it changes.

The University’s UCU Industrial Action 2022-23 page will be updated with any news or information as it changes.

Who can I speak To If I have concerns?

I’m a PGR Student – Is There Support For Me?

We recognise that many PGR students at Surrey provide paid teaching and demonstrating, and that they may be affected by the issues central to this industrial action. PGRs who are members of UCU may wish to participate in the strike action.

There will also be PGRs at Surrey who do not teach or are not members of UCU.

The Union will support all PGRs throughout this period, irrespective of whether they are directly involved in industrial action or not and they can reach out to us for support if they need it.

Do I Still Need To attend university on a strike day?

Yes. Unless you have been informed in advance of a disruption to your lecture/tutorial, assume it is taking place.

The hope is that there will be advanced warning for students but this cannot be guaranteed currently.

What Do The Students’ Union think?

The Students’ Union officer team are holding an emergency Union Forum meeting on the 21 September from 1700 – 1800 to hear both sides of the situation from the UCU and the University. If you wish to attend then you can join here.

If you cannot attend the forum, please leave any feedback you wish to be considered here and we will include your views as part of the discussion.

We will update this page as soon as the vote from the meeting has been completed. 

What do the University Think?

Strike Action 25-29 September 2023

The University’s Chief Student Officer, Kerry Matthews provided an update on 14 September:


The University shared this statement on 19 April –

Contingency plans

Given our commitment to maintaining the student experience, there will be no change in exam timetables and exam board timetables, including marking deadlines. Managers will work with Heads of School to reallocate impacted marking with the academic teaching team which may include appropriately qualified postgraduate researchers. You can see more details in our approach to the marking and assessment boycott (MAB)

The University’s Chief Student Officer, Kerry Matthews provided an update on 30 January saying –

‘Not every part of the University will experience disruption, as not all staff will choose to strike. However, we are working on plans to mitigate the impact on your teaching and educational experience.

Your Head of School will be working on local plans, dependent on the likely impact, and you will be informed of any changes to your timetable or other activities.’

You can read the full update here

The University has also stated that ‘ Any monies withheld because of strike action/ASOS will be reallocated to student experience activities across the University.’

Last week, the University’s Chief Student Officer, Kerry Matthews said this in their email to students on Monday 23 January –

‘On Wednesday 1 February, some Surrey staff will be taking strike action, with more days of strikes expected to be announced during February and March, probably at short notice. This is part of the ongoing industrial action being organised by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) as part of their national dispute over pay, pensions and working conditions.

As before, this action may result in some disruption to your teaching and education activities, for example:

  • lectures, seminars and classes may be cancelled at short notice or on the day of strike action
  • materials relating to your course may be unavailable on the days of strike action
  • feedback and assessment may take longer

Not every part of the University will experience disruption, as not all staff will choose to strike.

The University will confirm arrangements to mitigate any impact on your teaching later this week.

In the meantime, if you have any further questions related to the industrial action, please visit our dedicated  UCU industrial action page containing FAQ’s on MySurrey  or contact your Academic Hive.

Thank you for your understanding and patience during this time.

Best wishes 

Kerry Matthews 
Chief Student Officer

How Do I Make a Complaint?

For guidance on the complaints process visit our page on making a complaint.

Please be aware a complaint is unlikely to be upheld just due to a strike, there would need to be a significant issue, financial burden or inappropriate solution offered.

If you experience any financial loss as a result of the strike with little or no notice of the timetable changing, for example pre-booked childcare or transport costs that the strike renders unnecessary, keep a record of the times and costs and any receipts or confirmation emails you have.

If you plan to make a complaint, wait until all strike action has been completed. There may be a satisfactory solution offered to you and you will be best to combine any disruption into one complaint rather than multiple complaints.

The Students Union may be able to support you in any complaints action taken and will produce a complaints template to follow once the strike action has been completed.

Strikes are not a new thing in the university sector and complaints have been made before, for examples of both successful and unsuccessful complaints there are real case examples on the OIA website here.