The UCU organised strikes are estimated to affect over one million students, with 575,000 teaching hours lost across the 64 universities participating.
Whilst most Student Unions backed the industrial action prior to the strikes, this has not been a universal stance.
In a poll held by the Students’ Union of Bath University, 54 percent of students voted against a motion supporting the strikes.
Similarly, the University of Exeter Students’ Guild declared a position of neutrality towards the strikes, yet this was reversed following pressure from students.
The Students’ Union of Warwick University has also come under fire after banning a strike-related meme from a Facebook page, bringing about accusations of censorship. This follows several other incidents of speakers and newspapers being banned by the SU, the university’s paper The Boar reported.
Strikes at the University of Sussex in Brighton made national news when a group of students supporting strike action broke into a lecture theatre, resulting in a minor clash between marchers and students attending the lecture. At the same university, students supporting the strikes blocked access to campus for public transport, leading Brighton & Hove Buses to drop the university from bus routes for the duration of the strikes.
Many more universities have had peaceful protests. After a march held by strikers and students from the University of Cambridge, a picnic was hosted in the centre of the campus, and trending Twitter hashtag #dogsonpicketlines has united people across universities in a mutual admiration of protest pups.
— The Boar (@WarwickBoar) February 23, 2018
In a statement released on the first day of strikes, the Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, Professor Chris Day, voiced his support of the striking staff members and called upon Universities UK to recommence negotiations on pensions. He is the first Vice-Chancellor to publicly support the strikes.
The first week of action saw staff at 57 universities strike. This will rise to 61 in the second week, with the inclusion of two universities from Scotland and two from London.
In the third week three more universities will join the action, bringing the total number of striking universities to 64.