STRIKING university staff are to enter a fresh wave of industrial action after rejecting a pensions deal.

Branches of the University and College Union (UCU) met yesterday to vote on a deal agreed between the trade union and Universities UK (UUK), which represents institutions across Britain.

The sides have been in dispute about pension reforms to address a reported £6.1 billion deficit and rising benefit costs.

The deal would have seen this deficit re-evaluated by an independent panel, with higher contributions from both employers and staff pay for three years.

The proposal followed six days of conciliation talks and picket lines on campuses from the Highlands to Cornwall. The action began on February 22 and has affected more than 60 institutions.

However, members threw out the agreement, with the hashtag #NoCapitulation trending on social media as academics told their union to seek a new deal. Large crowds also massed outside its London headquarters.

Strathclyde University’s branch of UCU branded the proposal an “omnishambles”, while students occupied lecture theatres at Edinburgh University in a show of solidarity with staff.

In a statement, UCU said preparations will now be made for strikes over the upcoming assessment and exam period.

Last week the union warned a second wave of 14 strike days would be targeted at this period if the dispute was not resolved.

An open letter from UCU members against the deal said they must now “force a more decisive victory”.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “The strike action for this week remains on and we will now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period. We want urgent talks with the universities’ representatives to try to find a way to get this dispute resolved.”

The union argued that planned changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme would have left a typical lecturer almost £10,000 worse-off in retirement.

UUK will now consult employers about a “revised mandate” ahead of a joint negotiating committee meeting.

A spokesperson for the body said: “It is hugely disappointing that students’ education will be further disrupted through continued strike action.”

He went on: “Our hope is that UCU can find a way to continue to engage constructively, in the interests of students and those staff who are keen to return to work.”