Lecturers at UK universities will launch a 48-hour strike today after talks failed to resolve a pay row.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will also refuse to work overtime, set additional work, or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.
If the dispute is not resolved in the coming weeks, members have agreed to further strike action which could affect open days, graduation ceremonies and the clearing process.
The union is also beginning preparations for a boycott of the setting and marking of students’ work to begin in the autumn.
The union has rejected a 1.1% pay offer from employers, arguing that universities could afford to pay more after the pay and benefits of university leaders went up by 5.1% last year.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “A 1.1% pay offer is an insult to hardworking staff, especially in light of the 5% pay rise vice-chancellors have enjoyed while holding down staff pay. Members have made it clear that they won’t tolerate a continued squeeze on their income, pay inequality and the increasing job insecurity blighting the sector.
“It’s time to invest properly in the teachers, researchers and administrators who are the backbone of our universities. Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but members feel that they have been left with no alternative. If the employers wish to see a swift end to this dispute, and avoid further disruption, they need to come back to the table with a much-improved offer.”
Protests are planned around the UK with rallies taking place in Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.
Unite, which has around 12,000 members in the higher education sector, said it was consulting on the possibility of joining the action. A ballot closes on June 6.
National officer Mike McCartney said: “We are calling on Unite members to reject the offer on the table. They have seen their pay slashed over recent years, while many university bosses are raking in more than the Prime Minister.
“Clearly there is unfairness in the pay system and that hurts our members who are mainly technicians, porters and cleaning staff without whom universities would not function. These are the workers who are the key to providing a good student experience.
“If the results of our consultative ballot are positive, as we expect they will be, then we will then move to a ballot for industrial action.
“Sadly, the employers have been totally intransigent and continue to refuse to increase their pay offer. This 1.1% offer is pretty paltry. Higher education staff are dedicated, hard-working professionals, they feel insulted by the offer.
“We are advising our members to support UCU members locally before work, during lunch time and at recognised breaks in their action this week.”