HAMPSHIRE students are set to face disruption as university staff will start a 14-day strike.

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 will start a strike on February 20.

The news comes as last year lecturers in Southampton protested over pay and working conditions.

Now 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.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “If universities want to avoid further disruption they need to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions.

“We have been clear from the outset that we would take serious and sustained industrial action if that was what was needed. As well as the strikes later this month, we are going to ballot members to ensure that we have a fresh mandate for action to continue until the end of the academic year if these disputes are not resolved.”

Staff at Winchester University did not join the strike before Christmas as they did not meet a 50% 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.

“Matters relating to pay awards and USS pensions are discussed nationally and as such can only be resolved at a national level.”

Winchester City Council has been approached for comment but was unable to provide one before the paper went to press.