HAMPSHIRE students will face disruption as university staff are set to strike for 14-days.

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced that staff at the University of Southampton and the University of Winchester will take action over working conditions, pay and pension costs.

Academics will join staff from other 72 universities across the country as they start their strike on February 20.

The news comes as last year lecturers in Southampton protested over the same issues.

The UCU said the action will start on February 20 and escalate each week, culminating with a week-long walkout from March 9 to March 13.

The union also warned it would ballot members after this wave of strikes, if the disputes could not be resolved, to ensure branches could take action until the end of the academic year.

Union members are also undertaking “action short of a strike”, which would involve working “strictly to contract”, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

On Thursday, February 20 at 1pm there will be a rally at Jubilee Plaza, on the Highfield Campus at the University of Southampton. Speakers will include UCU vice-president Vicky Blake, as well as staff and students from both Winchester and Southampton universities.

Striking staff will be on picket lines from 8am each day outside the main university entrances, including the Highfield Campus and the Avenue Campus in Southampton.

UCU regional official Moray McAulay said: ‘It is incredibly frustrating that UCU members are being forced to walk out again to secure fair pay, conditions and pensions. This unprecedented level of action shows just how angry staff are at their universities’ refusal to negotiate properly with us.

“If universities want to avoid continued disruption then they need to get their representatives back to the negotiating table with serious options to resolve these disputes.”

Staff at Winchester University did not join the strike before Christmas as they did not meet a 50 per cent turnout threshold required by law. But some academics at Winchester School of Art walked out of their lecture halls in November 2019 as part of the eight-day strike.

A University of Southampton spokesperson said: “Meeting our commitments to our students and providing every opportunity for them to achieve their potential is always our highest priority. We will work with colleagues throughout the University to put in place the arrangements necessary to minimise any disadvantage to students as a result of any industrial action.