In 2011-12 45% of alumni donations went to Oxford and Cambridge / Getty Images


Lecture halls could lie empty and tutorials cancelled this term, after academics voted heavily in favour of industrial action. In a national ballot of members of the University and College Union, 66 per cent of lecturers voted to strike, with 77 per cent supporting action short of a strike.

The UCU said that its members would be striking to protest pay and conditions. It contends that staff “have suffered four consecutive years of pay cuts and seen their pay drop by 13 per cent in real terms”.

Other grievances include the universities' use of zero-hour contracts for junior academics. Broader concerns have also been raised over the coalition government’s higher education policies.

The strike’s effectiveness may be restricted by the union’s membership, which is limited among the top academics.

Dr John Parrington, a fellow of medicine at Worcester College in Oxford, said: “I and other lecturers are being driven to ballot for strike action because of the disgraceful way in which we are (not) being rewarded for our hard work as lecturers.”

The strike vote comes as part of a wider campaign for industrial action amongst academics at universities across the UK, supported by three separate unions: UCU, Unite and Unison.

Oxford UCU president Terry Hoad commented: “I am confident that if called on to action, UCU members in Oxford will show the determination needed. We will do so with, I hope, the support of our students, who have shown understanding of our position in the past and more recently, and with whom we see ourselves as sharing in the common pursuit of learning and understanding.”