Help & Advice

UCU exists to support our members. We do this in a variety of ways, but all of them are based on the principle that “together, we’re stronger”. Often this means negotiating with the University management to improve things for staff as a whole. Sometimes, it means offering advice, support and representation to you individually.

General Help and Advice

The national union has a good general Support Centre, including standard advice on requesting confirmation of permanence after four years of service.

Personal Casework

Cambridge UCU has a team of experienced and trained personal caseworkers. These are volunteer members who provide support, advice and representation to individual members on employment related difficulties.

If you have a problem at work which you would like to discuss or need representation*, in confidence, or if you need advice about employment law or University policy, please complete the online case form to enable a suitable caseworker to be chosen to address your case. Your completed form will be treated in strictest confidence by our Administrator, who will contact you to confirm receipt and discuss next steps. If you would prefer an email version (Word) of the form, please contact the Administrator who will send one out to you.

This illustrative flowchart shows approximately how cases received are treated.

Please note that, due to the high demand, you may have to wait until a caseworker is available to take on your case. You have the right to request that disciplinary or grievance meetings are postponed until a caseworker is able to accompany you.

*If you are being disciplined, or taking a grievance against another member of staff, you have a legal right to be accompanied by a union representative. Please contact the LA Administrator who can arrange for a caseworker to discuss the situation with you and accompany you to meetings.

UCU caseworkers are not able to offer advice, support or representation to non-members, or to members regarding problems which arose before they joined UCU.

Education Support Partnership (ESP)

ESP offers support services to all staff in further and higher education and their families, including:

  • Counselling: confidential, solution-focused counselling on personal and workplace issues
  • One-to-one coaching: personalised practical and emotional support via a secure email system
  • Information, advice and support material: news, guides and factsheets on relevant topics such as well-being, work-life balance, workload problems, stress management, coping with bereavement, and dealing with difficult people
  • Financial assistance: a needs-based grants and loans programme
  • Money management advice: individually tailored strategies to address financial difficulties, restructure debt and secure benefits
  • Signposting to relevant organisations: the information you need to take the next steps to a better future.

All these services can be accessed online at, by email to or through a 24/7 telephone support line, on 08000 562 561, or via text on 07909 341229.

ESP was previously called Recourse, and prior to that the College and University Support Network (CUSN).

UCU Legal Scheme

Like all unions, UCU tries to resolve members’ employment related disputes through negotiations at local level. However, there are times when members require legal advice or where disputes cannot be resolved locally.

The UCU Legal Scheme provides legal support and representation on matters arising in connection with a member’s employment, professional duties or trade union activities. In the first instance members should seek advice from the local association. You may be referred to the UCU Legal Scheme where appropriate. You must be a member of UCU, with subscriptions up to date.