FAQs

Q: Who can join UCU?
A: Our rules entitle anyone who works as an academic, lecturer, trainer, instructor, researcher, administrator, manager, computer staff, librarian or postgraduate in a UK university, college, prison, adult education or training organisation can join UCU. However UCU as a member of the Trade Union Congress does not actively seek to recruit staff in a grade or job group for which we have no formal representational rights and for which another trade union is recognised by the employer.


Q: Can hourly paid or part-time staff join UCU?
A: Membership of UCU is not determined by the number of hours you work or the type of contract you have: many of our members work on a part-time or hourly-paid basis. We make allowances in our national subscription rates for any member whose salary is likely to be lower than their national full-time colleagues.


Q: How does UCU work for its members?
A: People who work in post-school education have never been under so much pressure. Staff numbers drop as student numbers rise – often with no matching increase in funding. For many people, salaries are simply failing to keep pace with those of comparable staff elsewhere in education. And as most people spend the majority of their lives at work, it pays to be in a union that ensures your pay and conditions are protected and improved, and that you are treated with respect in the workplace.


Q: Won’t I get lost in a big union?
A: In UCU everyone counts, wherever they work. UCU is committed to campaigning for real equality of opportunity for all staff working in higher, further and adult education.


Q: How much does it cost to be a UCU member?
A: UCU membership can cost as little as £2.58 per month depending on your earnings.


Q: How does UCU influence education policy
A: UCU speaks for the practitioners so that we can be a serious voice when decisions are made about education policy and the broader political agenda. We argue against the increasing teaching and administrative burdens being placed on our members and for fairer funding, more democratic governance and academic freedom.


Q: Will I have access to legal advice?
A: Trade unions win millions of pounds in compensation for their members every year. UCU works with specialist employment lawyers to ensure members have access to professional legal advice; that’s in addition to the representation and skills available from UCU’s trained local representatives.


Q: What other support can I expect?
A: Recourse (formerly the College and University Support Network) is a UK-wide charity providing free support services specifically for all staff working in further and higher education. Part of the Teacher Support Network and supported by UCU, Recourse complements the work of the union offering information and advice, telephone counselling, online coaching and financial assistance.


Q: Can I be a member of more than one union?
A: Post-school education employs a wide range of diverse specialist staff. That is why UCU has joint membership agreements with unions that represent a variety of health professionals, as well as broadcasters and journalists. These are designed to offer all the benefits of belonging to two unions but for less than the cost of the combined full subscription rates. This is especially useful when your career is not just in higher education.


Q: Do you represent MRC, NIBSC or Imanet staff?
A: UCU has been representing Medical Research Council non-clinical scientists for around 30 years


Q: How can UCU help and support me as a health educator?
A: As a member of UCU you will be backed by the professional expertise of the largest union for lecturers in Britain. We are the only union recognised by the higher education employers to represent the interests of health educators at national level.


Q: I’ve been a member of the RCN since I was a student nurse – why should I join UCU too?
A: The Royal College of Nursing – and the other health staff professional associations – is the appropriate body to represent your interests as a health professional. But if you are working in higher education, you will need the additional protection of the main union representing your interests as an academic. Most importantly, UCU is the only union with national collective bargaining rights for health educators.


Q: Can you post me a UCU application form?
A: Yes we can.


Q: Can UCU help me develop my career?
A: We offer conferences on topical issues such as online learning, governance and the globalisation of the profession. We strive for fair and transparent promotion procedures. We have a network of union learning representatives pressing for better staff development. And UCU members can subscribe to the leading quarterly, Journal of Further & Higher Education, at one-third of the published price.


Q: Can students or postgraduates join?
A: UCU does have a ‘student’ membership category.