Industrial Action

What information has the University published in regards to the industrial action?

The University has published information in regards to the industrial action on their website here.

What do I do if I miss out on contact hours due to the industrial action?

Your department should be in contact with you about any missed teaching. They will be able to advise you on whether you will be assessed on the missed teaching and if any actions will be taken to make up for the missed content.

If you arrive at teaching and find that it isn’t going to be taking place due to the industrial action, you should contact your department to make them aware of this. Your department should then be able to let you know if you can access this teaching in an alternative format, such as attending teaching at different times, watching content on Lecture Capture, or if additional teaching resources will be made available on the VLE. If your department is unable to provide teaching in an alternative format, they should make reasonable adjustments to your assessments in order to ensure that you are not assessed on material for which you have not received teaching.

If you make your department aware that teaching has been cancelled and you are dissatisfied with their response, or you don’t receive a response, you can submit an exceptional circumstances claim, appeal, complaint or request for compensation – please see below for further guidance about this. You could also send an email to the University’s industrial action guidance enquiry email address at industrial-action-enquiries@york.ac.uk, detailing the issues or concerns that you have..

We would recommend that you keep a log of any planned teaching which hasn’t gone ahead as a result of the industrial action. We would also recommend that you keep a log of the dates at which you have notified your academic department about missed teaching, and the response you receive from them. This will be really helpful if you do go on to submit an exceptional circumstances claim, appeal, complaint or request for compensation.

How do I keep a log of missed contact hours?

You may wish to consider answering the following questions in your log:

  • Date and time of missed contact hours
  • Type of contact hour
  • If a seminar/lecture/exam, name of module
  • Content to be covered during missed hours
  • Did I incur any additional costs in order to attend the missed hours (i.e. childcare, travel)? What was this cost?
  • Have I contacted my academic department to notify them of missed contact hours? Who did I contact? When did I contact them? What did I say to/email them?
  • Has my department responded to me? Who responded? When did they respond? What was their response?
  • Am I satisfied with the response my department has given? If not, why?
  • Has my department informed me that the missed hours will be delivered at an alternative time? When will they be delivered?
  • Was I able to attend this alternative time? If not, why?

I’m a PGR student and I have a TAP/progression meeting or viva during the strike – what do I do?

If you are a PGR student that has TAP meetings, progression meetings or a VIVA scheduled during the strike period you should speak with your supervisor and email your departmental administrator to ask what mitigation will be put into place. If you do not receive a response from your department or if you are dissatisfied with this response, you can contact the University’s industrial action enquiries email address at industrial-action-enquiries@york.ac.uk. If you would like further clarification about your department’s response and any implications which this might have, you can contact the Research Student Administration team at research-student-admin@york.ac.uk. You are also welcome to make an appointment to speak with a GSA Adviser.

 

Can I submit an exceptional circumstances claim about the way that the strike has affected my assessments?

Yes, you can – but there are a few important things to know before you submit your claim.

We recommend that you keep a log of any contact hours or assessments you have missed as a result of the industrial action – this will be really helpful if you do need to submit an exceptional circumstances claim. For further information about this, see the “How do I keep a log of missed contact hours” section above.

An exceptional circumstances claim made on the basis of the impact of the industrial action on your assessments might only be upheld if:

  • You have missed teaching as a result of the industrial action and your department has not delivered this in an alternative format, or your department have not made reasonable adjustments to your assessments in line with missed teaching, or
  • You have specific personal circumstances which mean that you have been unable to engage with teaching delivered in an alternative format, or that the reasonable adjustments made to your assessments have been insufficient.

As described in the “What do I do if I miss out on contact hours as a result of industrial action” section, you should notify your department if you attend teaching or an assessment and find that it isn’t going ahead as a result of the industrial action. You could contact your supervisor, module leader or the Chair of Board of Studies, or the Postgraduate Administrator in your department. Your department should then make reasonable adjustments either to your teaching or assessment in order to ensure that you are not assessed on material for which you have not received teaching.

If you find that you have been or are being assessed on material for which you have not received teaching as a result of the industrial action, you can submit an exceptional circumstances claim. You can also submit a complaint to the University about this – further guidance about submitting a complaint in regards to the industrial action can be found below.

In order to submit your exceptional circumstances claim, you will need to complete an exceptional circumstances claim form, available on the University website here: https://www.york.ac.uk/students/studying/progress/exceptional-circumstances/.

Ideally, you should submit an exceptional circumstances claim in advance of your assessment deadline. If you are not able to do so, then you should be aware that the deadline for an exceptional circumstances claim is 7 days from the date of the assessment. You can submit a claim after this, but you will need a “good reason” for not being able to submit your claim by the deadline. You can contact the GSA Advice Service for guidance if you need to submit a late claim.

If you are making your claim on the basis that your department have not provided alternative teaching, or that they have not made reasonable adjustments to your assessments in line with teaching which has not been delivered, you will need to describe:

  • The assessment you are claiming against,
  • When this assessment took place,
  • What teaching was not delivered as a result of the industrial action,
  • When and how you made your department aware that the teaching was not delivered,
  • The reasonable adjustments made to your assessment or teaching as a result of this (if any), and, if adjustments were made, why these are not sufficient to mitigate the effect of the strike on your assessment, and
  • A description of how the industrial action has impacted your ability to complete this assessment.

If you are making your claim on the basis that you have specific personal circumstances which have prevented you from being able to engage with your teaching or assessments because of changes made as a result of the industrial action, you should also describe:

  • The circumstances which have affected your ability to engage with your teaching or assessments as a result of changes made because of the strike, and
  • How these circumstances have affected your ability to engage with your teaching and/or assessments.

You will also need to provide evidence with your claim. It is really helpful if you can provide a copy of any correspondence sent to your department about the fact that your teaching wasn’t delivered, and any response you received from your department. This could include copies of emails sent to or received from your department. You could also provide copies of VLE announcements. If you spoke with your department in person or over the phone, you could provide the date at which you had the conversation, the person you spoke with, and the contents of the conversation.

It is helpful if you can provide evidence that your teaching did not take place, and that you had made your department aware of this,  because your department will need to be assured that teaching hasn’t taken place. You will also need to provide evidence that your department have not made alternative teaching available to you, or that the adjustments made to your assessments as a result of the industrial action have been insufficient.

If you are making your claim on the basis of your having personal circumstances which have prevented you from being able to engage with alternative modes of teaching, or which mean that the reasonable adjustments made to your assessments are insufficient, you will also need to provide evidence of this. For example, you could request evidence from your GP or the Open Door team.

If you feel that your assessments have been affected by the strike action, you are strongly encouraged to submit an exceptional circumstances claim at the appropriate time, rather than giving your assessment a go and relying on appealing later. This is because it will be much harder for an appeal to be upheld than for an exceptional circumstances claim to be upheld.

You are welcome to contact the GSA Advice Service if you have any further questions about submitting an exceptional circumstances claim. We are happy to look through a draft of your claim and evidence before you submit it, as we can then provide feedback, if you would find that helpful. You can contact the Advice Service at advice@york.ac.uk, to book an appointment to speak with us in person or over the phone/video call.

 

Can I submit a complaint about the University’s response to the industrial action, or the impact which the industrial action has had on me?

Yes, you can.

First, you might find it helpful to have a look at the guidance on the University website about the complaints and appeals procedure relating to industrial action – you can find this here:https://www.york.ac.uk/students/help/appeals/submitting-a-complaint-in-relation-to-ucu-strike/

The first stage of the Complaints Procedure is the Informal Stage. At this point, you would make your complaint to the relevant head of department. You can submit your complaint in person, in writing, over the phone or via email. We would suggest that you submit your complaint either in writing or via email. This means that if you need to refer back to your complaint later, you will have a copy of it, and there will be a “paper trail” of the actions you’ve taken so far.

In your complaint, you should describe:

  • The issue with which you are dissatisfied,
  • Why you feel that the University’s response to the strike action has not been sufficient,
  • The impact which this issue has had on you and/or your ability to engage with your teaching and/or assessments, if applicable,
  • Any action you have taken to make your department aware of the impact the strike has had on you,
  • If applicable, the response you have received from your department and why you are dissatisfied with this response, and
  • The remedy you would like to ask for if your complaint is upheld. For example, you could ask for an apology from the University, or a change in University policy or procedure.

It is very helpful if you are able to provide evidence in support of your complaint. This could include a log of the contact hours you have missed, any action you have taken to inform your department of missed teaching, their response, and why you are dissatisfied with this response. You can find out more about keeping a log of missed contact hours in the “How do I keep a log of missed contact hours” section above. Alternatively, you can provide copies of emails sent to and received from your department in regards to the industrial action, as well as VLE announcements.

If you are unhappy with the response you receive at the Informal Stage, you can then submit a complaint at the Formal Stage. If you would like further information about making a complaint at the Formal Stage, please make an appointment to speak with a GSA Adviser.

You are welcome to contact the GSA Advice Service if you have any further questions about submitting a complaint. We are happy to look through a draft of your complaint and evidence before you submit it, as we can then provide feedback, if you would find that helpful. You can contact the Advice Service at advice@york.ac.uk, or book an appointment to speak with us face-to-face, over the phone or via Skype at www.yorkgsa.org/book.

Can I request compensation for missed teaching as a result of the industrial action?

The University’s guidance in relation to requesting compensation for missed teaching is available on their website here. The information they have given us is as follows:

“If your department makes arrangements to mitigate lost teaching, for example re-arranges or makes alternative teaching and learning available, and you incur out of pocket expenses as a consequence, for example additional child care or travel costs, you may submit your case for reimbursement by emailing industrial-action-enquiries@york.ac.uk” Claims will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and they may ask for evidence.

We understand that some students may wish to request compensation for missed teaching, as well as for out of pocket expenses.

The first step is to make sure that the University has done everything it can to provide you with teaching and/or to make reasonable adjustments to your assessments in line with teaching which has not been delivered.

If you have missed teaching as a result of the industrial action, you should make sure that you inform your department about this. You could contact your supervisor, Chair of Board of Studies or departmental administrator. Your department may then be able to make reasonable adjustments in order to provide your teaching in another format.  This might include offering you to attend teaching at a different time, providing teaching materials via the VLE, or providing access to teaching via Lecture Capture. Alternatively, your department may be able to make reasonable adjustments to your assessments, in order to ensure that you are not assessed on material for which you have not received teaching.

You should also keep a log of any teaching which you have missed and the dates at which you have notified your department of this. You should also include your department’s response when you hear back from them in your log. Further information about keeping a log of missed teaching can be found above in this document.

If you have contacted your academic department and they have not provided your teaching in an alternative format, or they have provided your teaching in an alternative format but you are dissatisfied with this response, you can send this to the University’s Industrial Action email address, industrial-action-enquiries@york.ac.uk.

If you’re not satisfied with the response from the University and would like to request financial compensation as a result of this, then you have the option of raising your issues as a complaint – you can find information about the University’s Complaints Procedure at the following link: https://www.york.ac.uk/students/help/appeals/. You could either can submit the online informal complaints form, or email complaints@york.ac.uk if you have any further queries about the process.

In your complaint we would recommend you include:

  • The way in which your teaching has been affected, including a list of the teaching which has not taken place as a result of the industrial action, with the module titles and dates of missed seminars/lectures
  • What action you have taken so far to raise this with your Department
  • What response (if any) that you’ve received from the University
  • Why your remain dissatisfied with any mitigation or contingency plan that was provided by the University
  • Any specific impact on you that has resulted in you being adversely affected or put at a disadvantage
  • The outcome you are looking for. If you are requesting compensation, do you have an idea of how much compensation you are seeking?

– For example, the OIA have previously calculated compensation for lost teaching on the basis by dividing the total cost of tuition fees by total number of contact hours, and then dividing by two (this is to take into account non-teaching costs such as library costs and support services). You then multiply this number by the number of contact hours you have missed due to the industrial action.

– Have you incurred any additional costs as a result of the industrial action? For example, have you been required to pay to travel to the University, or have you paid for childcare, but then have found that your teaching has been cancelled? If so, you could also request reimbursement of these costs.

If you have kept a log of your missed teaching, you can use this log in order to inform your complaint.

We would also recommend that you provide evidence of the issues you have experienced. For example, you may wish to provide:

  • Your log of missed teaching, the actions you have taken as a result of this, and the responses you have received from the University
  • Copies of any correspondence you have received from the University in regards to missed teaching, including any responses given by the University when you have raised dissatisfaction.
  • Evidence of any costs you have incurred (such as train tickets, or an invoice from your childcare provider which covers the dates affected)

Can I make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator about the University’s response to the strike, or the way in which the strike has affected me (or my assessments)?

Yes, you can. However, students are only able to submit complaints to the OIA after they have exhausted the University’s internal procedures. This means that, in order to approach the OIA, you need to have completed either the University’s appeal procedure or the University’s complaints procedure.

The deadline for the submission of a complaint to the OIA is twelve months after the University’s appeals or complaints procedure has been completed. You can find information about submitting a complaint to the OIA on their website here: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/students/.

Can I take legal action against the University in regards to their response to the strike action or the way in which the strike has affected me?

The GSA Advice Service is not able to provide legal advice. If you would like to take legal action against the University, you will need to seek advice from a legal professional.

The Office for Students has produced a consumer rights summary regarding student’s position under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which is available on their website here. It is important to note that this is not legal advice to individual students.

Prior to seeking legal advice, it may be advisable to first complete the University’s internal procedures.

 

I have further questions which haven’t been answered here. Where can I go for support?

If you have any further questions and you are a postgraduate student, you are welcome to make an appointment to speak with the GSA Advice Service. You can book an appointment to speak with an Adviser at the GSA by contacting us via email at advice@yorkgsa.org.

If you are an Undergraduate student, you can make an appointment to speak with a member of the YUSU Advice and Support Centre. You can request an appointment with a YUSU Adviser by emailing asc@yusu.org.