2023 Strike

Donate to the strike fund

Please donate to the RCA UCU local strike fund if you’re able to, for larger payments (over £200) please use the bank transfer rather than the paypal.
Donate via paypal
Donate via bank transfer
You can also buy RCA UCU merchandise and donated artworks to support the strike fund.

If you’re a member of RCA UCU who is unable to come to the picket, or participate in a marking boycott, please consider taking part in wage sharing, to stand with and support members who are losing their pay. We encourage members to share “a significant amount of their income for that member” into the hardship fund. This means the amount is open, and each member can judge for themselves what is a significant amount. Please share these funds via paypal or bank transfer, citing ‘Wage Sharing’ in the reference, and they will be used to support members as part of the local hardship fund.

Explainer for students

As you may know, alongside 70,000 colleagues at 147 other universities across the country, RCA staff members who are part of the University and College Union (UCU) recently voted on taking strike action on the issues of against sector-wide attacks on our pay and working conditions, inequalities, and workload, all during a cost of living crisis. UCU as a national union is in dispute with the national collective group of employers UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers Association). Nationally, 81% of UCU members voted YES to industrial action that included a strike and 88% of UCU members voted YES to other forms of industrial action!

RCA UCU has a long and proud history of working alongside student groups, including the Students’ Union to defend access to inclusive education. When we work together, we can win. We are asking all students to please support us in our struggle for better working conditions – poor working conditions for staff mean poor learning conditions for students. 

We want university managements across the UK to recognise the scale of our concerns. And we want to create an art school that works for all. We want to give you the time, teaching conditions and environment you deserve. Students and staff working together can make a difference – please help us voice our concerns and support the strike! 


Pay is a core issue of the strikes. Before this year, University staff had already seen the value of their pay eroded by 28% over the last 12 years. That’s like having to work for free for two months a year. Because of soaring inflation this year, it has got much worse. Our pay offer is only 5% while food inflation is over 17%, this is equivalent to a 12% pay cut. 

Pay cuts affect certain people more than others. The pay gap between White and Global Ethnic Majorities staff stands at 17% and the disability pay gap is 9%. The mean gender pay gap is 16%. The issue of pay, casualisation and impossible workloads are also intersectional: Women, disabled and Global Ethnic Majority staff are all disproportionately impacted by increases to their workload, and the same groups are also disproportionately likely to be on casualised (zero hours and fixed term) instead of the stability of permanent contracts.

University employers have the money. There are more students than ever paying student fees. But university managements prefer to use it to build new buildings and inflate their own huge salaries than to ensure the pay of their staff keeps up with the costs of living. These conditions severely affect our ability to teach and support you. This means that students are increasingly getting a worse deal. Senior management force staff members into poor conditions and strike action. 


The strike days planned are 

  • Week 1 – Wednesday 1 February, 
  • Week 2 – Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February 
  • Week 3 – Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February 
  • Week 4 – Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 February 
  • Week 5 – Monday 27, Tuesday 28 February,  Wednesday 1 March and Thursday 2 March 
  • (No action week commencing Monday 6 March) 
  • Week 6 – Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March 
  • Week 7 – Monday 20, Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March.

On each of the strike days we will be putting on a series of ‘teach outs’ – these are discussions, events, creative making workshops by lecturers, college staff and external guests. Please join us at these activities – these are opportunities to learn with us and collectively make the Radical College of Art!! 


A strike is a collective action where staff refuse to work. Staff have a legal right to strike. The intention of a strike is to disrupt the normal workings of the institution in order to create change for staff who work there and there is a long history of strikes in all types of workplace that result in improving conditions for staff and everyone that the workplace serves (i.e. students). Strikes are taken as a last resort when more conventional negotiations have failed. They are used as a way to compel employers to come back to the negotiating table.

Staff are not paid for the days they are on strike, so many of the lecturers and staff on strike will be losing a significant proportion of their income. The College does not know which staff will be going on strike and which won’t because being a member of a union is confidential. The College can ask us if we’re going on strike, but we’re not obliged to tell them. We encourage our members not to so the university can’t make plans to undermine us – by arranging cover, or ‘accidentally’ misinterpreting our messages to students. Staff on strike also do not reschedule activities that took place on strike days! This is to prevent the College from just ignoring the strike knowing it will just further increase our workload in the future.

There will likely be picket lines at the entrances to RCA buildings, and striking staff will not cross these lines on strike days. Staff picketing are not lawfully allowed to stop anyone from entering a building, but may hand out leaflets or engage students and other staff in conversation in order to discourage people from crossing the picket line, in solidarity with striking staff.


Tier 2 visa holders will not be penalised in applications for Indefinite Leave to remain if they are absent from work due to legal strike action. 

If you are an international student on a visa (Tier 4) and you miss a class because it is cancelled due to strike action, it should not be counted as an absence from your expected ‘contact points’. It states in the Home Office’s guidance, ‘an expected contact point is one which the student would in principle have been able to attend. If a lecture, tutorial or other planned contact point with a student is cancelled due to industrial action, any missed contact points caused by the industrial action of lecturers should not be treated as unauthorised absences’.  Unfortunately, if a class taken by non-striking staff is not cancelled, and you decide not to attend as an act of solidarity with staff on strike, we believe the Home Office will expect the College to record that as an unauthorised absence. Students with concerns are encouraged to contact Student Support.

We don’t know how the College intends to spend the pay that’s been withheld from staff who participate in strike action. They might just try to keep it. We are going to ask them, and suggest you ask them too. We suggest any pay deducted from staff is donated to the Student Hardship and Emergency funds.  

If you wish to, you can write to the university about missed teaching. They may be able to offer you some form of compensation, without you needing to take the complaint any further. If not, ask them what you should do next. As students you are entirely entitled to do this and if you feel like your studies have been interrupted we encourage you to do this knowing that the national strike is the result of employers continually treating staff unfairly!


  1. Support us on social media @rcaucu on twitter and weibo, and @rca_ucu on instagram
  2. Come to picket lines and teach outs: learn with us, talk to us and let the university that you are concerned about these issues too! 
  3. Be understanding that if your lecturers and tutors are on strike they are unlikely to be able to reply to emails as part of the strike – the picket line is digital too! If you do support the action, please be patient and email them after the strike.
  4. Be creative! Producing media materials, banners, posters and visuals for the strike are important and fun ways to support the campaign. 
  5. Work with your students’ union in support of our fight. Follow them @rcasu.org.uk
  6. Write to RCA Vice-Chancellor Paul Thompson paul.thompson@rca.ac.uk and RCA’s Vice Chancellor’s office to tell them you support striking staff