Staff at universities and colleges in Birmingham have joined thousands of colleagues across the country on strike in a bitter row over pensions.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 47 sites, including the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Birmingham, Liverpool and Goldsmiths, Royal Holloway and Imperial College in London, as well as the Open University and the Royal College of Art, will walk out for 24 hours in protest at changes to their pension scheme.
The union is campaigning against moves to raise the retirement age for academics, increase contributions and end the final salary pension scheme.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "University staff really value their pension rights and have made it clear from the start of this dispute that if the employers were not prepared to negotiate then we would be left with little option but to take strike action.
"Strike action is always a last resort and we have always wanted to meet the employers to avoid widespread disruption. However, both sides had to be prepared to go that extra mile and the employers clearly weren't. I share the frustration that students must be feeling at the employers' intransigence."
University employers said there had been three years of negotiations with the UCU to address financial pressures on the pension scheme created by the improved life expectancy of retired members and other factors.
The Employers Pensions Forum chairman, Professor Brian Cantor said: "An enormous amount of work has gone into the development of this package of reforms."
He said the changes were approved by bodies which involved full UCU representation. "UCU has repeatedly failed to engage in the established process for agreeing scheme changes. The union is ignoring the past three years' of negotiations."
The strike comes ahead of Saturday's union-organised march in London against public sector cuts, including job losses and pension changes, which will be attended by more than 100,000 people.