Around 43,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) have began an eight day strike in rows over pay conditions and pensions.
60 UK institutions are taking part in the strike, including lecturers, student support services staff, technicians, administrators and tutors affecting around 1m students.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady told the PA, “We have told members they need to be prepared to take eight days of action and they are prepared to take eight days of action.
“It is sad for university staff to be back here, they don’t take strike action lightly – they don’t get paid and they don’t get to do the jobs they love.”
Grady added, “If we don’t get a long-term sustainable settlement, then we will be in a position where we will be considering more action.”
A spokesman for USS employers said: “It’s important to remember that members voting ‘yes’ to strike action over pensions account for less than 10% of the scheme’s eligible membership.
“Universities are doing everything they can to ensure that students do not lose out. Online learning materials, libraries and student support services will remain available throughout this period to support students’ independent study.
“Today we are reiterating our call to the union to focus its efforts on continuing talks to reach a joint and fair solution.”
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said, “Fair pay, secure contracts, reasonable workloads and decent, affordable pensions should come as standard for all those working in education, including in our universities.
“Thousands are on strike today because that simply isn’t the case in the increasingly marketised system that the Tories have created.
“Labour will end the failed free market experiment in education and instead put staff and students first.”