Staff at the University of Cambridge, the Open University in Milton Keynes and University of East Anglia in Norwich are beginning a series of walkouts today in disputes over pay and pensions.
The strike action will last for eight days. Sixty UK universities are involved with members of the University Colleges Union (UCU).
UCU said it feared that universities had learnt nothing from last year's dispute when university campuses were brought to a standstill by unprecedented levels of strike action.
As well as eight days of protest, union members will begin "action short of a strike".
It involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.
UCU members are taking action on pay and pensions at:
- University of Cambridge
- The Open University, Milton Keynes
- The University of Essex, Colchester
UCU members are taking action on pensions only at
- University of East Anglia, Norwich
The UCU said staff had reached "breaking point" over a number of issues, including workloads, real-terms cuts in pay, a 15% gender pay gap and changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which the union says will leave members paying in more and receiving less in retirement.
The University and Colleges say they are committed to ensuring staff have access to one of the best pension schemes in the country.
They also say they are working hard to ensure that students do not miss out or are disadvantaged by the strikes