University Staff Strikes

Posted 5 Months Ago

Why are the staff striking?

The short answer is because changes proposed to their pension scheme means staff will get less pension but must pay more for it. Under the current proposal a staff member could lose as much as £208,000 over their career!

The University Superannuation Scheme (USS), which is the pension scheme for most staff in our University, has a hole in the balance sheet, being only 89% funded.

Many pension schemes run at a deficit. To reduce the USS deficit (from 89% funded to 91%) it is proposed to remove the ‘defined benefit’ for staff. What will be put in place is a ‘defined contribution’ pension scheme. While the defined benefit gives staff a guaranteed level of income when they retire, the ‘defined contribution’ is much more dependent on market returns.

This means staff will get less pension, and will have to pay more for it, without a pay rise. This is an income reduction.

Many of our staff have families, mortgages, and other commitments. To enforce a poor deal on our staff is detrimental to our students. What staff member would be happy with a pay cut? A poorer pension? Does that motivate them? Does out support them to provide the best for our students?

The pension deal was put forward on behalf of the University by University’s United Kingdom (UUK), a body that represents Vice-Chancellors and Principals of Universities.

The staff strikes, organised by members of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) are about getting a better deal for our staff.

The strikes dates are as follows:

  • Week one: 22-23 February
  • Week two: 26-28 February
  • Week three: 5-8 March
  • Week four: 12-16 March

A Statement from the Student Union Executive:

We, the Student Union Executive, believe staff have a right to be fairly rewarded for their work for students and the University as a whole. We urge the University to lobby UUK to negotiate a better deal for our staff. We believe in quality teaching and research, as it is an integral part of the student experience, the core of what a University an academic institution. We believe that happy and supported staff help provide the best experience for students of our University.

You can support the staff by joining the picket line.

We urge the university to communicate with students on their efforts to avoid the strike, and support our students. We will negotiate changes to coursework deadline dates to ensure our students can continue in their studies, and to maintain the academic integrity of Heriot-Watt University.

If you want to show support for the staff, if you want to make your frustration heard about losing classes, or if you think that our staff deserve better, then please email Richard Williams, our Vice-Chancellor and Principal at or James Richards, President of the local UCU branch at, or tweet at and let them know your thoughts.

If you want to get involved, show your support by joining the picket line. Show that you support our staff by not crossing the picket line. This is a poor deal for our staff, and something better can be done.

If your studies have been seriously adversely affected then please get in touch with the Advice Hub at and they can support you through Mitigating Circumstances forms.


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Festive Opening Hours

Posted 6 Months Ago

The Shop

16 - 17 DEC 1000 – 1400

18 - 21 DEC 0800 – 1800

22 DEC 08:00 - 15:00


3 - 5 JAN 0800 – 1800

The Union 

11 - 15 DEC 0900 – 0000

16 - 17 DEC CLOSED

18 - 21 DEC 0900 - 1700 (reception only)

22 DEC 0900 - 1500 (reception only)




Christmas at The Union!

Posted 7 Months Ago

We've got a full package of festive treats lined up for you this Christmas. In addition to our 12 days of Christmas Countdown, we will be selling festive Costa Drinks, Mulled Cider, special Christmas Burgers and Paninis and essential Mince Pies. 

MONDAY 4TH DECEMBER - Christmas Jumper Day - We’re having our jumper day early this year so you don’t miss out on the fun!

TUESDAY 5TH DECEMBER - Christmas Freakshake Day - We’re jumping on the latest craze with a Christmas twist.

WEDNESDAY 6TH DECEMBER - Vintage Vibes Card Signing - Send a card to someone who may be alone this Christmas.

THURSDAY 7TH DECEMBER - Christmas Films Day - We’ll showing some classics all day Zeros to get you in the mood.

FRIDAY 8TH DECEMBER - Christmas Cracker Day - Free Christmas Cracker with every meal purchased!

MONDAY 11TH DECEMBER - Christmas Cracker Day - Free Christmas Cracker with every meal purchased!

TUESDAY 12TH DECEMBER - Free Christmas Dinner Buffet - That’s right, we’re putting on a FREE Christmas buffet in The Union.

WEDNESDAY 13TH DECEMBER - Santa Present Giveaway - Santa will be visiting The Union and giving away some super freebies.

THURSDAY 14TH DECEMBER - Free Mince Pie with every Large Coffee - Grab a large coffee... Get a free mince pie!

FRIDAY 15TH DECEMBER - Union Christmas Lunches & Karaoke & Christmas Cocktail Evening. End the term with a sit down Christmas Lunch, £10 for a starter and main and if you’ve got room you can add dessert. Continue the celebrations with a special Christmas Karaoke and Cocktail Evening.

What would life at Heriot-Watt be like without the Student Union?

Posted 8 Months Ago

We might have made a huge difference to your student experience, or we might have made a tiny one! Either way, there's definitely something we've done. The Edinburgh Campus would look a lot different for starters. Here are just some of the differences we've made to Heriot-Watt.

  1.  Would the university be breaking the law? – “Higher education bodies have a legal obligation to hold student elections so that students can be represented (s.22, Education Act 1994).”
  2. Who’d represent us academically? – “The Student Union recruits your School Officers, who meet as a group weekly and sit on senior school level committees. If you’re having an issue with your course, these are the people who can communicate these problems to the university. Without the Student Union, this vital link would be gone.”
  3. Would we have a 24/7 library? – “The Student Union was part of the initial campaign to change the library’s opening hours. If it shut every day, think of the mad rush to get to the buses before everyone else…”
  4. Where would we shop? – “The Student Shop is run by your Student Union. If it didn’t exist, where would you satisfy your chocolate cravings? In first year, you’d have to go all the way into town just for a pint of milk. And can you imagine the queues in the canteen at lunch time…”
  5. Who could we turn to for advice? – “The Advice Hub provides invaluable support to all Heriot-Watt students the whole year round. They also hand out free condoms and can help with hardship loans if you’re struggling with your finances. They run Therapets too – without them, would you have ever met an alpaca? We don’t want to imagine a world where they didn’t exist.”
  6. Where would we study? – "The Student Union campaigned for more study space, which then led The University to build the fantastic Learning Commons and refurbish The James Watt Centre for extra study space. The University also ran a campaign to make students aware of all the spaces available on campus for study.”
  7. Who’d welcome the Freshers? – “If you’ve ever lived in our halls, you might remember finding the welcome pack sitting on your new desk, and how you felt like you were part of something. The Student Union also runs Meet Your Mates and a load of Freshers Week events – would you have stumbled across your buddies without us?”
  8. What would be in place of the Union building? – “An existence without the Student Union building poses even more questions. Where else would you get the cheapest coffee on campus? Where would you get your post-exam pint? What would students do in the evening without the pub quizzes and live music nights? And what would sit in that giant space on the lawn?”
  9. What would happen to our societies? – “We have 70 societies affiliated with the Student Union – that’s a lot of people whose lives wouldn’t be quite the same without us…”
  10. Who’d represent our protected groups? – “The Student Union has equality representatives who stand up for all protected groups at Heriot-Watt. It’s always good to have someone on your side, and that’s why we’re here.”
  11. Who’d update you about the swans? – “We like to keep an eye on our little swan family. They’re pretty robust and would probably survive without us, but then who’d keep you updated on what they’re up to if we weren’t around?”


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