Joint Statement from SGSAH/ SGSSS with regards to funded doctoral researchers on strike

We write jointly as Directors of SGSAH (Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities) and SGSSS (Scottish Graduate School of Social Science) to clarify the position of doctoral researchers funded via SGSAH and SGSSS during the UCU/EIS strike action currently underway at some UK universities.

We have done so in the form of a set of Questions & Answers. These answers are correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing.



Can I be suspended from my SGSAH or SGSSS studentship, or my stipend stopped, for taking part in strike action as a PhD student.


You can’t be suspended for this reason, and SGSAH and SGSSS will not stop your stipend. Nor will your university. The reason for this is that your studentship is not an employment contract, and your stipend is not a wage. However, if you also work for your university, and have an employment contract with them, see the response to the next question.



I’m a SGSAH or SGSSS-funded PhD student - am I able to strike?


As a student, if you don’t attend classes or take part in any other academic activities you would be doing this in a voluntary capacity and it would not be considered that you were ‘on strike’. However, if you are directly employed by your university (e.g. as a graduate teaching assistant, as a research assistant), you are a member of UCU or EIS, and it is one of the universities at which strike action is taking place, you can withdraw your labour from your contract with the university on the basis of the strike. Do ask your union (UCU or EIS) and students’ union for advice and support if you do so.



What if I’m on a collaborative doctoral award which includes an external partner organisation which is not a university or HEI, or I’m undertaking a research internship funded by SGSAH or SGSSS?


As a collaborative doctoral student, your studentship is also not an employment contract. Neither is a research internship. Therefore SGSAH and SGSSS will not stop your stipend if you are striking from an employment contract with a university.


Professor Jamie Pearce (Director of SGSSS)

Professor Claire Squires (Director of SGSAH)


For any further information or clarification, please contact or

First published: 29 February 2020

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