University staff have made a breakthrough in their months-long dispute with employers during which lecturers have gone on strike, worked to rule and refused to cover for absent colleagues across the UK.

A group of five higher education trade unions and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) announced agreement “on terms of reference for detailed negotiations covering a review of the UK higher education pay spine, workload, contract types and equality pay gaps”.

UCEA, representing 144 higher education employers, had last month made a pay offer of between 8% and 5% from August 2023 with a proportion of that to be paid from February, about six months in advance of the usual pay uplift date.

Both sides will consult with their members on the wider package. The University and College Union (UCU) said strikes planned for next week remained scheduled to continue “whilst members are asked whether they wish to stand down action to formally consider the offer”.


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