Planned UCU strike action - FAQ's - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Planned UCU strike action – FAQ’s

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Planned UCU strike action – FAQ’s

When are the strike days?

The strike days are planned for eight consecutive working days, from Monday 25th November to Wednesday 4th December 2019.

Will The Courtauld be open on the strike days?

Yes, The Courtauld will continue to stay open as normal during the strike days. This includes the Library, Common Room and Helpdesks. Royal Literary Fellows, Counselling and Wellbeing services will also be open as normal.

Will all staff be on strike?

Not all academic staff at The Courtauld are members of the UCU trade union or voted for industrial action.

Of those staff who did vote, some will choose to go on strike for eight days and some may take action on certain days.

It is not possible for us to know precisely which staff who are members of UCU will go on strike. If we receive prior notification from staff that they will be on strike, then we will notify affected students in advance.

Will my lecturer be on strike?

If your lecturer is a UCU member who has voted for industrial action, they might choose to strike for all eight days, or on certain days. Staff do not have to tell us in advance if they will be on strike so it is not possible for us to know precisely who or when they might choose to do so.

Staff who choose to strike will not undertake any work on those days and this may result in disruption to some lectures and seminars.  Any cancelled classes will not be rescheduled later. Staff who are on strike will also not respond to work-related emails or hold their office hours.

If we receive prior notification from staff that they will be on strike, then we will notify affected students in advance. Unfortunately, this will not always be possible. We advise students to attend classes as normal unless you hear otherwise.

Will the strike impact my tutorials, seminars or lectures?

Classes may be cancelled or moved to a different location including Somerset House.

Every reasonable effort will be made to contact students in advance about any changes or cancellations. We advise students to attend classes as normal unless you hear otherwise.

What should I do if my class is cancelled?

If one of your classes is cancelled, please report it to the Student Advice Desk ( so that we can check whether the cancellation is due to the strike or for another reason (such as illness).

If your class is cancelled due to the strike, we encourage all students to continue to meet as a group to discuss the readings or artworks you have been studying. Please use the seminar room that has been booked for your class.

Will assessments and exams be affected by the strike?

We will ensure that no students are disadvantaged in any assessment activity as a result of the strike action.

You should assume that any assessment deadlines already set will remain in place. Please continue to submit your essays and other assignments as normal. You will be informed with advance notice if any deadlines change.

BA and Graduate Diploma examination papers have not been set yet, and we will ensure that all papers reflect the scope of the course as delivered.

Will I still receive feedback on my assessed work on time?

Every effort will be made to ensure that feedback for assessed work is returned to students on the scheduled dates.

However, it is likely that some feedback may be delayed until after the strike and you will be contacted if we think this is likely.

Will my attendance record be affected (including Tier 4 visa holders)?

If you miss any teaching sessions as a result of the strike, your attendance will not be recorded and will not affect your attendance record.

If you hold a Tier 4 visa, your attendance will not be recorded and your status will therefore not be affected.

How will I know if the libraries are open?

Some library staff are UCU members and this may affect the libraries’ opening hours. We will endeavour to update our opening times web page as soon as possible if we have to change our opening hours. You may want to contact us on ‪+44 (0)20 3947 7630 or at before travelling if you have a long journey or need to see a specific item. Please bear with us if we take a little longer to respond than usual as we may be busier than normal.

How will I know what library services are available?

You will be able to access our extensive collection of online resources as normal, wherever you are. Courtauld students and staff can also register with Senate House Library for free, enabling you to use its databases, eresources and online journals.

We will also do our best to update our opening times web page as soon as possible if we have to make any changes to our services during the strike.

What if my library books are due back on a strike day?

If you have finished with your books we encourage you to return them so that others can borrow them. If not (or you are unable to visit the library) you find how to renew them online on our guidelines for use web pages. We will waive any penalties if you return your books late as long as you bring them in by 11 December 2019.

What is a picket line?

Staff who are members of a trade union, and who have had a lawful vote to take strike action, create a picket line by standing outside the building where they usually work and explaining to people why they are on strike.

Will I have to cross a picket line?

Vernon Square may be peacefully picketed by union members during periods of strike action, but you will not be prevented from entering.  The picket is not aimed at students and everyone understands the many reasons you may need to enter the building, for example to see counsellors.  There is an expectation that you will attend teaching as normal unless you hear that it has been cancelled or rescheduled.

What do I do if I am a student and I don’t want to cross the picket line?

You are perfectly entitled to cross a picket line, and pickets should make no effort to discourage you from doing so. If you choose not to cross, you will need to take personal responsibility for the teaching and learning that you will be missing. If you experience any difficulties you should contact or talk to the security team on duty.

What support has The Courtauld been putting in place?

We have asked all staff who go on strike to ensure you have all the materials you need available on the VLE, to enable you to continue working independently if your classes are affected during the strike period.

Will I be compensated if any of my classes are cancelled due to the strike?

Given what we are currently aware of, we are not intending to offer any compensation as we are doing everything we can to minimise the disruption to your teaching and learning.  We will however monitor and review this throughout the period of the strike.

What happens to the pay of the strikers that is withheld?

Anyone who goes on strike has their pay deducted for that day. We have decided to either put that money towards student hardship funds or other activities that support and benefit students in their learning experience.

What is the strike about?

The action relates to two separate disputes about the national pay negotiations and changes to the USS pension scheme.

What is being done to resolve the dispute?

At a national level, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents higher education institutions in national pay negotiations, has proposed further joint work on the non-pay elements of the trade union claim.  The Courtauld has already worked with our UCU branch on local issues including casual and fixed term employment and we will continue to work constructively with the trade unions on these and other matters in future.

Where can I go for further advice and support?

We encourage you to speak to your Supervisor, Lecturer or any other staff in confidence if you have any other concerns or queries.

You can also email any questions to

For more information about the University’s Student Support Services, visit the website.

The FAQ’s will be updated accordingly as we receive more information so please continue to check this page regularly for further updates.

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