STAFF and lecturers at universities throughout Hampshire are walking out of the classroom and on to picket lines today in support of the first UK-wide joint walkout between higher education unions.

The industrial action by UCU, Unite and Unison, is expected to bring some disruption to university timetables as staff strike in protest over a one per cent pay rise.

In Southampton, rallies are being held at the University of Southampton campus for staff and students to show their support for the action.

A rally is also being held at Guildhall Square by staff from Solent university.

However, despite some anticipated disruption students are being told to attend lectures as normal. Universities say they are not predicting widespread disruption due to fewer than 10 per cent of staff voting for strike action.

A University of Southampton spokesman said: “It is expected that students will come to university as normal and any changes to teaching timetables will be communicated as early as possible. Some services are likely to be affected, including catering and library services.”

Daily Echo: Southampton Solent University rally in Guildhall Square.

Southampton Solent University was also intending to remain open after a spokeswoman said they expected “minimal disruption”.

Students would be informed by email and text message of any disruption.

She added: “The library and resource centres will be open as usual, so any affected students are being advised to use these facilities for self-directed learning."

The University of Winchester will also remain open but a spokesman said they expected some lectures would be cancelled.

Staff in Southampton are expected to man picket lines at both city universities at first light before making their way to the rallies.

Dr Eric Silverman, UCU president and a full-time research fellow at the University of Southampton, said: “I studied really hard to get the skills for this job which I love.

“I’ve just got married and live in the city to be near work. I just cannot afford to go on taking pay cuts year after year when bills are rising and we are paying increased pensions contributions.

“Staff love their jobs, but their goodwill cannot continue to be taken for granted. We are disappointed the employers are still refusing to sit down with us to try and resolve this without any need for disruption.”

More than 40 members of staff from Southampton Solent gathered in Southampton’s Guildhall Square today armed with banners and flags.

They are demanding a 3.3 per cent payrise for university support workers and claim they have lost 15 per cent in wages over the last three years.

Banners were held aloft saying “Professional support staff = Professional pay” and UCU rep for the Solent region, Dr Mark Farwell, said: “Students are paying the highest fees in history and at the same time Universities are awash with money.

"The 3.3 per cent pay rise we want will only cost them one per cent. Support staff are among the poorest paid sectors and I’m hoping this sends out a very strong message.”