STAFF at Oxford Brookes University are set to strike this term.

The university was informed by the University and College Union (UCU) that a fresh round of re-ballots has seen members vote in favour of strike action.

The UCU previously said 10 universities could face walkouts in disputes over pensions, pay and conditions, after staff at 58 institutions took part in a three-day strike last month.

The re-ballots came after a number of branches originally fell short of the 50 per cent turnout threshold required by law for industrial action to go ahead.

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Professor Alistair Fitt, vice-chancellor at Oxford Brookes, said in a statement: “As has been widely reported in the media, UCU has been locked in a dispute with universities and their representative bodies over pay, pensions and working conditions for university staff.

“In November, staff at 58 universities across the UK voted to strike and undertook three days of strike action in December.

“At Oxford Brookes, a ballot of members did not reach the required 50 per cent threshold of members in order to proceed.

“UCU recently re-balloted its members who are employed at Oxford Brookes.

“Yesterday, the university was informed that a majority of UCU members voted in favour of strike action and for ‘action short of a strike’.”

This could include working to contract or not covering for absent colleagues.

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Professor Fitt continued: “UCU have not yet announced when industrial action will take place and are required to provide details at least two weeks in advance of any action being taken.

“We will inform students and staff once we have been notified by them.

“I am hugely disappointed to see strike action go ahead at this time, when students across the country have already experienced a large amount of disruption due to the ongoing pandemic.

“However, the university respects the decision of those staff who have voted to strike, and we will continue to engage with UCU to understand members’ concerns.

“Alongside our discussions with UCU, our priority will be to do everything we can to minimise disruption to our students’ ongoing teaching, learning and assessment.

“The impact of strike action is likely to vary for different students, depending on union membership of staff within different programmes; some students may notice little disruption, others may experience more.

“We are currently investigating a range of options to minimise the impact on learning and will update all students and staff as soon as we have more information.”

The UCU claims that cuts to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions scheme would reduce the guaranteed retirement income of a typical member by 35 per cent.

It also suggests that pay for university staff has fallen by around a fifth after 12 years of below inflation pay offers.

The union is demanding that cuts to the pensions scheme are revoked and members offered a £2,500 pay increase, as well as action to tackle ‘unmanageable workloads’ and ‘insecure contracts’.