University College and New College, have debated motions in support of the UCU strikes. New College’s JCR narrowly rejected a motion supporting the strikes with amendments pledging to give money to the strike fund, if it was deemed to be a legal donation (dependent on consultation with the Bursar). Univ’s JCR passed the motion to support the strikes.

Policy motions at New College require a two-thirds majority to pass, and the final results were: In Favour= 52.22%; In Opposition= 28.89%; Abstention= 18.89%. Questions were raised in the meeting about the legitimacy of giving to the UCU strike fund due to the policies of colleges on giving money to outside institutions (such as those with charitable status).

The UCU states on their website concerning the strike fund that: “If members vote to take action: those of you earning £30,000 or more will be able to claim up to £50 from the third day onwards; those of you earning below £30,000 will be able to claim up to £75 per day from the second day onwards.”

The strikes commenced on Thursday 20th February, and are spread out in three clusters: Cluster 1: Thursday of 5th week – Wednesday of 6th week (4 working days) Cluster 2: Monday of 7th week – Thursday of 7th week (4 working days) Cluster 3: Monday of 8th week – Friday of 8th week (5 working days)

The University and Colleges Union are organising and participating in the strikes. The UCU is a trade union which represents those employed in higher education.

This means the union represents casual researchers and teaching staff, “permanent” lecturers, and academic-related professional services staff. Any employee of the university who falls under one of these categories and is a member of the UCU is eligible to participate in the upcoming strikes.

It is unclear how wide-ranging strikes will be this year, and exactly how many lecturers intend to strike. Although all UCU members have the right to strike, whether to strike or not is left to the discretion of the individual. Cherwell understands that approximately 50% of the Oxford UCU branch turned out to vote in the strike ballot. Of those, around 75% voted in favour of action, meaning that around 38% of Oxford UCU members have returned a vote to strike.

More information about the UCU strikes can be found here: https://cherwell.org/2020/02/17/ucu-strikes-what-you-need-to-know/