Strikes will enter their third and final day at Essex University on Friday as staff at colleges and universities refuse to back down in a row over pay and pensions.

Staff formed picket lines on three locations on the Colchester campus – the sports centre, business school and Wivenhoe House.

Essex University is one of 57 higher education institutions across Britain which instigated the three-day strike following a ballot of staff in October.

The University College Union (UCU) – the trade union for university staff – is locked in a stand-off with Universities UK (UUK), which represents university vice-chancellors.

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When asked whether the strikes would make a difference, the vice-president of Essex University’s UCU branch, Dr Jak Peake, said they may just be the beginning of further action.

He said: “I think at the moment the campaign is one of escalation – we’re in the first phase.

"This is the beginning of something that’s going to get bigger and the hope is the UUK will take our concerns seriously.”

A statement from an Essex university spokesman read: “We will be working with academics to provide students with as much advice and guidance as possible and will ensure the impact on studies will be minimised.”