Staff at the University of Edinburgh will begin strike action on Friday as they protest pay cuts imposed on those taking industrial action.

Members of the UCU began a marking and assessment boycott on April 20 in a dispute over pay and conditions.

That has led to fears of a devaluation of degrees for students, with many universities responding by deducting pay from those taking part in the action.

A vote in April gave the UCU a mandate to take strike action for the next six months, and staff in Edinburgh will strike today in response to 50 per cent pay cuts.

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The union said that the deductions do not reflect the percentage of time staff taking part in the boycott would normally spend marking and assessing.

Edinburgh UCU branch spokesperson, Sophia Woodman, said: "Edinburgh university has just under £2.5 billion worth of reserves.

"This university and the sector can afford to pay staff enough to support themselves through this cost-of-living crisis. The last thing staff want to do is take industrial action, but over ten years of pay being held down and worsening conditions has left us with no option.

"Edinburgh Principal, Peter Mathieson, should stop trying to circumvent lawful industrial action short of strike and join the increasing number of vice-chancellors calling for new, meaningful talks to resolve the dispute.

"Our branch is ready and willing to issue a joint statement with our employer calling for the reopening of negotiations."

The Herald: A graduation ceremony at the  University of Edinburgh

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “Participation in the marking and assessment boycott is considered partial performance of contract, particularly at this time of year, and varying deductions are being made by institutions across the UK impacted by this action. Though we reserve the right to withhold up to 100 per cent of pay in these circumstances, we recognise that staff are continuing to undertake some duties and as a result those participating in the boycott are receiving 50 per cent of their usual pay.

"Disappointingly, our efforts to seek a local resolution with UCU leadership have been rejected. Last month, we appealed directly to colleagues participating in this action and offered to return any withheld pay and cancel planned salary deductions if they agree to mark and assess all boycotted work by the end of July, prioritising students due to complete their programme this year. We are frustrated that UCU's response has been to continue targeting students with further strike action.

“Pay and pensions are nationally negotiated, which is the system preferred by UCU. We are not able to make decisions in isolation without national compromise, though we endeavour to influence these negotiations where we can. We will continue to engage in conversations with UCU Edinburgh on other employment matters which are within our local control and where we can make improvements in the ways we support our staff at the University of Edinburgh.”