UNIVERSITY academics walked out of their lecture halls and braved the wet weather in the first of 14 days of strikes.

Last Thursday members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the University of Winchester and the Winchester School of Art, run by the University of Southampton, joined 72 other institutions to take action over working conditions, pay and pension costs.

Staff at the University of Southampton walked out in last year to protest over the same issues.

And speaking last week, Dr Adam George Dunn, senior teaching fellow at the Winchester School of Art, said: “The issues went unresolved last time, there has been some progress but we are not there year.”

Dr Dunn said that many are calling for a national framework to “solidify” the requirements and demands of university academics.

“The idea of having a national framework will solidify expectations around the quality of work life, particualarly work load and expectations, avoiding the use of casual contracts and the gender pay gap.”

Also protesting at the school of art was teaching fellow Charlie Ellis, who said: “It is about progression opportunities for staff as well , unless you have certain criteria it is quite difficult to progress for promotion, and you enter academia understanding that you could be earning more somewhere else.”

The UCU said the action will 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.

Dr Megen de Bruin-Mole, who was also on the picket line, said: “It is 14 days spread across four weeks, that is a lot classes that is going to be missed, that will be missed.

But those at the university were in agreement that the action needed to happen and said that they had the support of their students in taking a stance.

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 were out in force last week to show their support for the cause.