The University and Colleges Union (UCU) is to hold a ballot to determine whether university staff should return to the picket lines.

The ballot follows the University and College Employers Association’s (UCEA) final offer of a 2-2.8% pay rise for university staff. The offer falls significantly short of UCU’s 7.5% pay claim. UCU says that real-terms pay has been devalued by 21% since 2010.

In initial consultations, 82% of union members said they would vote to reject the offer while 65% were in support of industrial action against low pay. This vote recorded a turnout of 47.7%.

In fighting low pay, the UCU also seeks to tackle casualisation of university staff contracts, the insufficient compensation for hours worked, the low living wage and the gender pay gap. In Oxford, the gender pay gap was reported to be 13.7% in March 2018.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary said: ‘The employers’ below-inflation pay offer does nothing to address years of decline in the value of higher education pay so we now have little option but to ballot for strike action.

‘Universities would do well to listen to their students and make investment in staff a top priority. That means a decent pay offer and concrete commitments to tackle problems with gender pay and insecure employment.’

The ballot will be open from August to October 2018.

Oxford UCU has not responded to a request for comment.