Up to 2.5 million students could face disruption as tens of thousands of university staff begin industrial action on Thursday in what has been billed as the biggest strike in the history of UK higher education.

More than 70,000 staff, including lecturers, librarians and researchers, are due to take part in the first of three days of strike action over pay, working conditions and pensions, with pickets expected at 150 universities.

The University and College Union (UCU) says the strike, which will also take place on Friday and Wednesday next week, will bring the sector to a standstill.

University administrators, cleaners, security and catering staff who are members of Unison are also taking industrial action over pay at 19 universities.

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