A wave of strike action in a bitter row over pensions got under way at universities across Scotland today.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are planning 14 days of action this month and in March, building towards a week-long walkout by staff.
The action, which includes some staff at the University of Aberdeen, sees union members effectively embark on a five-day walkout, covering today and tomorrow and Monday to Wednesday of next week.
The UCU said 10 institutions will ultimately be affected by the strikes, affecting more than 145,000 students in total.
Universities UK says it remains at the negotiating table and believes that around 16% of academic staff that are UCU members in the affected UK institutions voted in favour of strike action.
The dispute centres on proposals put forward by Universities UK for changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
Employers argue that the pension scheme is billions of pounds in deficit, while the union says the proposals would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement.
The Scottish universities are among 64 UK institutions to be hit with 14 days of strikes over the next four weeks if the dispute is not resolved, the UCU has warned.
Further strike action is also planned for Monday, March 5 through to Thursday, March 8, followed by a five-day walk out starting on Monday, March 12.
Other universities in Scotland that will be affected are the universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, St Andrews, Stirling, Strath-clyde, the Scottish Association for Marine Science at the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Open University.
UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said: “Nobody wants to take strike action, but staff across Scotland feel they have no choice.”
Universities UK said the pension scheme has a deficit of more than £6 billion that cannot be ignored.
A spokesman said: “UUK remains at the negotiating table, but so far UCU has refused to engage on how best to address the funding challenges facing USS. It is important now that UCU engages on how best to ensure the long-term sustainability of the scheme.”
A University of Aberdeen spokesperson said: “We acknowledge that our staff are deeply committed to their profession and supporting the delivery of an outstanding student experience at the University of Aberdeen.”
They added: “We will take whatever reasonable steps we can to ensure the University remains open for business as normal during this period.”