University staff will continue a 48-hour strike on Friday despite an announcement of fresh talks aimed at resolving a dispute over pay, jobs, pensions and conditions.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will remain on strike at around 150 universities.
The union welcomed a decision by university employers to enter negotiations under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas.
UCU and four other higher education unions – EIS, GMB, Unison and Unite – will meet employer representatives for talks next week.
The UCU said Friday’s strike will go ahead, followed by more walkouts throughout February and March.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “We are pleased the employers have agreed to enter the Acas process in order to try and resolve our dispute.
“The union has been clear, we need an offer that addresses the key issues affecting our members – specifically on casualisation and workloads. We haven’t had that yet.
“The sector has more than enough money to pay and treat people fairly, and employers have the power to do so.
“I am incredibly proud of UCU members whose dedication to improving their working standards and education has gotten us this far.”