Academics rejected a new pay offer from university employers yesterday, scuppering what is almost certainly the last chance of salvaging the marking of exams for up to 350,000 students this summer.
The two unions at the centre of the dispute - NATFHE, the university and college lecturers' union, and the Association of University Teachers, turned down an improved offer that would have meant a 13.1 per cent pay rise over three years. Union leaders said that there was now a risk of all-out strike action.
NATFHE is asking for a 23 per cent pay increase, while the Association of University Teachers wants a two-year deal of more than 10 per cent.
Many lecturers will stop work today to protest over pay outside the offices of the University and Colleges Employers' Association.
Both sides had earlier acknowledged that the dispute must be settled by the start of this month for there to be any chance of the exams being salvaged. Instead, lecturers at Oxford Brookes University were told last night they would not be paid if they continued with their boycott of setting and marking exams.
Members of NATFHE at Oxford Brookes voted unanimously to take all-out strike action over the threat.Reuse content