GSA Official Statement on UCU Strike Action Update 11/02/22

Update 11th February 2022

At an extraordinary Council meeting called on 10th February, the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) Council supported the motion put forward by the GSA sabbatical officers on behalf of our postgraduate members to support the upcoming UCU industrial action from Monday 14th February.  This is also mirrored by student responses to a survey undertaken this week by the GSA.

Increasing casualisation and inequality in higher education are the main reasons for the GSA in supporting the industrial action, but we wish to emphasise that the support services of the GSA will remain impartial in order to continue the association’s work to support all students.

The GSA’s independent and confidential Advice Service ( will offer support and guidance to all postgraduate students affected by the strike.

Graduate Students’ Association Statement 

On Thursday 10th February, the Graduate Students’ Association Council met to consider its position on the upcoming industrial action by the UCU and its membership that is expected to take place between Monday 14th February and Wednesday 2nd March 2022 across ten days at around 68 educational institutions across the country.

After considerable discussion, the Council decided to support the upcoming industrial action with 87% in favour. A GSA survey of its membership also indicates students are overwhelmingly in support of the strike. The increasing casualisation of higher education is a matter of significant concern to the Council members, considering the current contribution of Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) and any potential contribution of future academics to higher education.

As the only dedicated postgraduate Students’ Union in the UK, the GSA believes it is our responsibility to stand with postgraduates nationally in the hope of bringing about a realistic and meaningful change across the sector.

The GSA Council today urges the university to commit to the creation of better working conditions for their academic staff including GTAs, and contribute generously to their pensions, acknowledging all their contributions to higher education and the prestige of the university through their teaching quality and research.

The GSA also recognises the considerable impact caused by the industrial action, requesting the sabbatical officers to keep in close contact with academic representatives, to stay informed and act on any issues facing the students.

The GSA is committed to improving the life and educational experiences of postgraduate students at the University of York and over the next few weeks we will be keeping students up to date with all information available to us.

Furthermore, the GSA wishes to emphasise this decision was made by the elected sabbatical officer representatives and supported by the Association Council student body.

The staff and support services of the GSA will remain impartial in order to continue our work to support all graduate students. The GSA’s independent, confidential and non-judgemental Advice Service will be able to offer support and guidance to all students affected by the strike with this guide on industrial action.

The GSA will be booking rooms across campus during the strike to offer students a place to gather and study with friends. Information on the times and locations will be available on our website. Moreover, we will be organising additional space for students to take a break and relax – with tea and coffee available to all.

The sabbatical officers will be monitoring the impact of industrial action on students closely and will keep the student body informed about any additions to the services of the GSA to mitigate this impact.


A message from your VP Academic Ekansh Kapoor

The GSA does not want non-striking Graduate Teaching Assistants to be overburdened with covering for the ones who are striking, which we understand was the case in previous industrial action.

Our understanding is that the University won’t force GTA’s to cover. If a GTA wants to cover work, they can. It is totally up to them.

We now have a level of clarity on this from the University.

The University is under an obligation to mitigate the impact of industrial action on students and will try as far as possible to maintain students’ learning. One way in which the University can do this is by asking colleagues to substitute where appropriate and GTAs may be asked to do this.

For GTAs that are on a casual statement of engagement, there is no obligation for you to accept any additional work that you are offered. It is your choice as to whether you wish to pick this up or not.

For GTAs that are on a contract of employment, you may wish to participate in the strike action on 1, 2 and 3 of December, and as long as you are not a member of any union other than UCU you are entitled to do so. You will need to follow the same reporting of action as other staff members and appropriate deductions of pay will be made.

If you are a GTA on a contract of employment that is not participating in the strike action, you may be asked to substitute for some teaching. It is also possible that you may be asked to cover and offered additional hours to do so, if this is the case you can decline this, it is your choice whether you wish to take on hours over your contracted hours.

Please note any visa restrictions will continue to apply.


GSA Officers

Viviane Cao, President, 

Ekansh Kapoor, Vice President  Academic, 

JiaYing Tan, Vice President Wellbeing and Community, 

GSA Advice Service


11th February 2021