University staff across the UK have backed industrial strike action in a row over pension changes, according to a union.
The University and College Union (UCU), which balloted members in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, said three-quarters (78%) of those who voted supported strike action and 87% were in favour of action short of a strike.
This could include a marking boycott and a refusal to set exams, the union said.
Last week, UK universities put forward proposals to close the Universities Superannuation Scheme's (USS) £8bn deficit, which could see final salary benefits being closed to new members and a defined contribution element introduced for high earners.
However, modelling done by First Actuarial showed that academics would be thousands of pounds worse off if the changes did go through, said UCU.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'UCU members at universities across the UK have made it quite clear that they reject the radical changes being proposed for their pensions. We will go into talks on Wednesday [afternoon] hopeful that we can resolve the current impasse.'
Responding to the announcement, Universities UK (UUK), the body representing universities in Britain, said it was disappointed that the UCU was already threatening to affect students with an assessment boycott.
'Everyone is aware that pensions are a vital part of the higher education pay and reward package, but the USS negotiations between UUK and UCU have not yet concluded,' a spokesman said. 'UUK believes that the employers' proposals are the best that can be achieved in terms of protecting employees' salaries, given the substantial scheme deficit and the risks to the future viability of the scheme if these reforms are not implemented.'
The union said if the employers continued with their proposals, it would meet on Friday to decide what form the disruption would take and when it would start.