UCL and University and College Union industrial action: your questions answered

All the latest information on any planned industrial action called by University and College Union (UCU), which may affect your studies.

Latest update: 6 November 2023

  • The national marking and assessment boycott as part of action short of strike (ASoS) has been suspended. 
  • The current mandate for industrial action ended in September 2023. The latest re-ballot did not meet the required thresholds for further action at this time. 

On this page you will find information relating to: 

About strike action and Action Short of Strike (ASoS) 

When will industrial action be taking place? 

Latest update: 21 September

On 3 April 2023, the national University and College Union (UCU) announced the result of its recent ballot to extend their existing mandate for industrial action over pay, conditions, and pensions. The national turnout in these aggregated ballots exceeded the required 50 per cent threshold and those voting were overwhelmingly in favour of the mandate being extended.  This re-ballot extends this period for another six months. 

There is currently no scheduled industrial action dates. 

You should continue to prepare for your upcoming examinations and assessments, and we remind you that you will not be assessed on any academic content which has not been properly covered due to industrial action.  

What is a strike or industrial action? 

Industrial action usually happens when a dispute in the workplace can't be resolved through negotiation. Industrial action is when workers:   

  • go on strike 
  • industrial action is 'official' if it is formally backed by a trade union and members of that union are taking part in it, such as UCU
  • take other action, like refusing to do overtime (known as ‘action short of a strike’)  
What does strike action mean? 

Strike action is when staff refuse to work on a particular strike day. At universities, this includes not doing any:

  • work-related activity, such as
    • teaching students
    • marking coursework
    • attending meetings
    • preparing for meetings or lectures
    • sending emails related to work and carrying out administrative tasks.  

Striking staff may create a picket line by standing outside their workplace to tell people why they are taking part in industrial action and ask them not to cross the line. 

What is action short of strike (ASoS)?

Action short of strike is when staff take other action different to a strike, such as limiting some work-related activities. UCU has confirmed that their planned action short of strike will consist of: 

  • working to contract 
  • not undertaking any voluntary activities 
  • not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action  
  • 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 
  • a marking and assessment boycott.  

As part of this period of industrial action, ASoS will include a marking and assessment boycott for the first time. This means that some staff may choose not to carry out marking and associated assessment activities/duties, including supporting students as they prepare for assessment. This also covers other assessment-related work such as exam invigilation, the processing of marks and preparation for and running of exam boards. 

What is happening with the negotiations? 

UCL employees’ pay, and benefits are negotiated on a national level with UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association) and our recognised trade unions.   

UCL supports and will continue to participate in these national negotiations.

How is UCL tackling key issues?

We recognise that the current economic and geo-political environment means that these are exceptionally challenging times for our sector, for UCL and for our community. We are committed to driving improvements in each of the areas raised in the ballots and working constructively and collaboratively with our trade union partners.  

We are taking action on a number of key issues including staff pay, pensions, job security, workload, pay gap and equality. For more information on how we are supporting our community please see the UCL HR website.

Do striking staff get paid?

Staff taking part in strike action do not get paid for the days when they are on strike. Staff taking part in action short of strike are paid as usual unless they fail to undertake specific contractual duties that are part of teaching, such as setting, marking and returning assessments, see below.

ASoS which comprises a marking and assessment boycott, represents a partial performance of staff’s employment contract and, as such, amounts to a partial performance of duties. Marking and assessment activity is a significant proportion of workload at this time of year and to reflect this UCL will withhold 50% of pay during the period of 24 April – 6 July from those who participate in the marking and assessment boycott. 

Funds from strike action in 2021 and 2022 were reinvested into schemes which support students who are in unexpected financial need. Where possible, unpaid salaries from striking staff will continue to go directly towards supporting our students. 

What can you expect during the industrial action? 

What impact is this industrial action likely to have on students?

It is difficult to predict the impact of this period of industrial action because not all UCL staff are members of UCU and not all members will take be on strike or taking part in a marking and assessment boycott. The vast majority of staff will be assessing, marking and processing as usual.     

The impact of ASoS will vary for students, with different levels of engagement according to course, subject and departments across the institution. We will do everything we can to minimise the impact of the action on you and support your educational outcomes and wellbeing. In previous disputes, we have always ensured that students are able to complete their studies and graduate. 

Will I still be able to come onto campus during the strike action?

You are still able to come onto campus during the strike, and buildings and libraries will remain open. You might see a picket line made up of UCU members outside some buildings. They might be holding signs or handing out leaflets, and you can talk to them and ask questions if you wish. They might ask you not to cross their picket line, but they are not allowed to prevent you from entering the building. 

How can I find out whether my classes are affected?

Striking staff do not have to tell UCL in advance of their intention to strike, but your department will try to inform you about changes to the teaching schedule through the usual channels, i.e., email and Moodle.  

Throughout the period of action, you should:   

Keep a close eye on your UCL emails and look out for Moodle page announcements. 
Stay informed by following the links in this update and looking out for announcements in the media.  

What should I do if I do not want to cross the picket line? 

It is your decision whether to cross the picket line or not. If you do not want to cross the picket line, you can choose not to do so, but please be aware that there may be a negative impact on your studies if you miss classes or assessments that have not been cancelled.  

Those picketing cannot intimidate anyone choosing to cross the picket line.  

If you experience any inappropriate behaviour please inform UCL Security by calling 222 from a UCL landline phone or +44 (0)20 7679 2222 from a mobile or visit Report and Support to report this. 

You can also get in touch with UCL’s Security team at the touch of a button by downloading UCL’s Safezone app – find out more.

    How will the industrial action affect my teaching, assessments, examinations?

    Will my degree be devalued if I miss some of my teaching and in-class assessments? 

    UCL will do everything we can to minimise the impact of the action on students. In previous disputes, we have always ensured that students are able to complete their studies and graduate. We will also ensure that you will not be assessed on academic content which has not been properly covered due to industrial action.  

    Please bear in mind that the teaching, learning and assessment for your programme of study takes place in a range of different ways, not just in the classroom. You can use your reading list and online materials as usual to ensure that you continue to have a wider learning experience. 

    What will happen about examinations and results? 

    When handling any problems related to examinations and assessments, UCL will always try to be fair to students and ensure the integrity of our academic standards.

    Your examination timetable which was published on Monday 27 February details your upcoming exams and assessments. You should assume these exams and assessments are going ahead, unless your department tells you otherwise.   

    In some small cases, the way in which you are assessed might differ from what is stated on your timetable, for example, an examination might become a piece of coursework, or another alternative form of assessment. In instances like these, this will be communicated directly to you.   

    We pledge that you will not be assessed on academic content that has not been taught due to industrial action, so that your educational outcomes are not affected by these strikes. We will also issue guidance to examination boards to ensure that disruption is taken into account when considering the individual graduation and progression profiles of affected students. No one at UCL, very much including striking staff, wishes to harm your educational outcomes. 

    If affected, UCL will try its best to ensure you are not disadvantaged. If you have missed any classes due to industrial action, UCL will take this into account either in the assessment that we set for you or when we consider your marks. Our examination boards have procedures that they can use to make these decisions.There is a possibility you may experience some delays in receiving your results if we are not able to complete all our marking and results approval processes in the usual way.  

    For further information, UCL has provided the following staff guidance on managing the impact of industrial action on assessment, progression and award.  

    What does this mean for coursework assessment? 

    Your department will advise you on arrangements for coursework assessment. These will vary from no change through to extensions to allow more time for you to submit the work.  

    What should I do if I have an assessment on a strike day? 

    You are expected to attend class tests and assessments that are scheduled on strike days. 

    What about labs that I have missed and in-class tests? 

    Your department will advise you on whether your labs or in-class tests will be rearranged to take place on a non-strike day, or whether they will be cancelled. If your lab was to be assessed or you had an in-class test and these cannot be rescheduled, we will discount these components from your overall module mark, in line with our regulations, so that you are not penalised as a result of the cancellation. 

    Do I need to submit an extenuating circumstances form?

    You do not need to submit an extenuating circumstances form as we have information about the impact of the strike on your classes. This includes exams and coursework assessment.  

    How will the marking and assessment boycott affect me?  

    The national Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB), as part of action short of strike (ASoS), has now ended at UCL.  

    UCL has instructed colleagues that any marks withheld because of the MAB, should be returned by no later than Friday 13 October. Students will receive their marks as soon as possible after this date.  

    Your department may be in contact ahead of this date and should be your first point of contact for any queries relating to your marks. 


    Will I receive all of my marks?

    The marking and assessment boycott may mean that some students experience delays in receiving marks or feedback on exams and assessments. In some cases, students might have missing marks for particular exams or assessments.

    What is UCL doing to ensure I receive my marks?

    Please be assured we are working hard to minimise any disruption. We will try to mitigate this boycott as much as possible. In some cases, the Board of Examiners may deem it appropriate that marking could be reassigned to other subject experts.

    We are taking action on a number of key issues including staff pay, pensions, job security, workload, pay gap and equality. For more information on how we are supporting our community please see the UCL HR website.

    Will there be any impact on my progression from one year of study to the next, or on finishing studies and graduation?

    We will take all available steps to minimise any disruption and ensure that you can progress from one year of study to the next, or that you can graduate at the end of your degree as normal.  

    Will my marks change?

    If some of your marks are missing, Boards of Examiners may take the decision to award you on the basis of your other marks. When marks are received after an award has been issued, these will be provided to you and a new transcript issued.  

    For all students 

    Once the outstanding marks are received, if these improve the original classification, the new classification will stand and the award reissued. Degree classifications cannot be downgraded. 

    For progressing students 

    Once the outstanding marks are received, where students have not achieved a pass, they will be given the opportunity to re-sit modules or be condoned as normal.  

    I have missing marks, when will I receive missing marks?

    We are working extremely hard to ensure you receive your marks as soon as possible. After the additional Results Day on Thursday 27 July, we will release results as and when they are received to your UCL email address, available on Portico and reflected on your transcript.  

    Your department will have the latest information on your marks and will keep you updated. 

    Transcript and certificates 

    Will I need to request a new certificate or transcript if my marks change?

    You will not need to request a new transcript; this will be sent to you automatically.  

    Final degree documents 
    Your degree documents will be posted to your home address within four months from the release of your results.  

    You can place an order for your free e-transcript via the UCL online store

    An e-transcript is an official electronic document containing a full record of confirmed academic results and can be used for third-party verification purposes, for example job applications, applications for further study, visa requirements or third-party verification by a solicitor. 

    Statement of Award 
    You will be able to download a Statement of Award letter from Portico. This is an official letter that can be used as proof that your award was conferred by UCL


    If I'm impacted by the marking and assessment boycott, will I still be able to attend graduation ceremonies?

    We know graduation is an important milestone to celebrate alongside your course-mates, friends and supporters. If you have missing marks because of the marking and assessment boycott, you will still be able to attend our upcoming ceremonies, have you name read out on the day and celebrate the completion of your time at UCL. 

    • Undergraduates - The graduation portal is now open for you to book your tickets, gown hire and photography packages. You can find out further information here.  


    • Postgraduates - you will be invited to a Graduation Ceremony in 2024. 

    Visa and further study 

    Will the marking and assessment boycott affect my graduate visa route application?

    The Home Office has made some temporary concessions to help Student visa holders who may face delays in applying for a Graduate visa because of the marking and assessment boycott.

    You can submit a Graduate visa application before your results are issued, but the application must be submitted before your current Student visa expires. The UKVI have confirmed they will hold your application for 8 weeks to wait for your results to be confirmed.  However, please note that your Graduate visa application may be refused if your results are not confirmed within 8 weeks of submitting your application.  If your visa is refused, you will not be able to apply again for the Graduate visa, and you will no longer be able to extend your Student visa under these concessions.  You will also lose the application fee.  If you choose to apply for the Graduate visa before your visa expires, you should do so as close to your visa expiry date as possible to maximise the time you have to receive your final results.

    If it seems likely that you will not receive your results within the 8 weeks, you can contact UCL Student Immigration Compliance Team for a new CAS to extend your Student visa.  Please note that you will be required to pay the visa application fee and associate Immigration Health Surcharge. 

    For further guidance, please contact the Student Immigration Advice and Compliance Team on askUCL.

    For further information, please access the Home Office website and the UKCISA website.

    Will I still be able to take up an offer of further study? 

    The Russell Group universities have agreed that entrance to post-graduate courses will not be affected by the MAB. If the university or employer from whom you hold an offer requires a letter confirming your academic performance to date and likelihood of successfully completing your degree programme, please contact your department for advice.


    Will the marking and assessment boycott affect my employment options?

    The marking and assessment boycott is affecting students across the UK. Graduate employers have been encouraged by the Institute of Student Employers to consider making contingency plans for those affected as needed.  

    I have a job offer, will the marking and assessment boycott affect this? 

    We do not expect the marking and assessment boycott to affect offers that have been made to students. It is recommended that students contact their future employers to make them aware of their situation and seek advice. 

    UCL's President & Provost, Dr Michael Spence AC, together with UCL’s Director of UCL Careers Karen Barnard, wrote to a wide range of employers to raise awareness about the potential implications for graduating students and to ask for understanding and support to students who are impacted through no fault of their own.  

    What career support is available to me?

    No matter what position you’re in, our UCL Careers professionals are available to offer guidance and practical advice. All students will have full access to UCL Careers support and myUCLCareers as a UCL student and for up to three years after graduating.  

    UCL Careers are supporting finalists who may be concerned about the impact of the marketing and assessment boycott on their employment opportunities. Further information can be found here.  


    I would like to talk to somebody about my results

    If you have any questions regarding your results, your department should be your first point of contact. Your department will outline ways to contact them directly with results queries. 

    How can I access wellbeing support?

    We know that results day can be an anxious time for students. If you would like to talk to someone about how you are feeling or discuss the support you may need, please contact Student Support and Wellbeing via askUCL.

    In-the-moment support is available via the UCL 24/7 Student Support Line on +44 (0) 808 238 0077. Find out more about this service. You should talk to your department first if you need support with your marks. 

    How can I submit a complaint?

    We recognise that students may want to submit a formal complaint due to disruption caused by the marking and assessment boycott. Further Information on how to submit a complaint can be found here. 

    What does this mean for my attendance?  

    Will I be penalised under the attendance policy when my classes are cancelled?

    We will not penalise you for not attending classes that we have cancelled due to the industrial action.  

    What if my classes are running but I choose not to cross the picket line and miss my class?

    We would expect all students to attend classes where they are running; however, we will not penalise you under UCL’s attendance policy. 

    I am a student on a Tier 4 student visa  – will I be penalised for not attending classes?

    If you are on student visa you will not be penalised if you are unable to attend classes that have been cancelled due to the strike action.  

    Information for Postgraduate Research students 

    I am a Postgraduate Research Student. How will I be affected? 

    Please assume that any viva examination (oral examination), upgrade meeting or other progression review meetings will go ahead as planned. However, we recommend that you contact your supervisor or department to confirm. 

    You should submit your thesis or any other work on schedule. 

    If an event you were due to teach at is cancelled, you will still be paid. 

    Further information and support 

    When will more information be available? 

    As far as possible, your department will try to inform you about changes to the teaching schedule through the usual channels, i.e. email and Moodle, but please remember that striking staff do not have to tell UCL in advance.  

    Throughout the period of action, you should:  

    Keep a close eye on your UCL emails and look out for Moodle page announcements.   
    tay informed by reading any updates sent to you and looking out for announcements in the media.  

    What support is available if I miss out on teaching due to staff taking part in industrial action?

    UCL is working with departments to ensure adequate support is made available where teaching is affected by industrial action and that disruption to students is minimised.

    In the event that you travel to campus and find that your teaching has been cancelled without prior warning, it may be possible to claim reimbursement for these travel costs. You should contact your department in the first instance.  

    If you believe the mitigations provided have not been sufficient to meet your learning outcomes, you can let us know by making use of UCL’s Student Complaints Procedure

    I’m worried that this may affect my mental health and wellbeing. Is there someone I can talk to? 

    If you have any worries related to the industrial action that may affect your mental health and wellbeing you can access support through the 24/7 Student Support Line or contact us through askUCL.

    I am a student who receives disability-related support, such as support workers and interpreters, will this be impacted by industrial action?

    UCL Student Support and Wellbeing will incur the costs of any cancellations of disability-related support resulting from UCU strike action. This is regardless of whether the student in receipt of disability-related support is funded by UCL or Government funding. Please ask your provider to invoice Student Support and Wellbeing by emailing ssw-disabilitymentalhealth@ucl.ac.uk 

    Will student support services be affected? 

    Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) will keep its services open as usual during the period of industrial action. Their same-day and prebooked appointments will continue to be available each UCL working day.   

    If you have a pre-arranged appointment with an SSW adviser or counsellor, please attend as usual.  

    Please note that SSW staff are unable to answer any administrative questions about the strike, such as whether your classes will be running or how the strike might affect your studies. In these cases, please contact your academic department.  

    Has your question been answered? 

    If you have any other questions you would like to ask about the industrial action and its impact, please speak to staff in your local department who may be able to help. If you have further questions that cannot be answered by your department, please do submit these through askUCL selecting the Results category.