Lecturers and support staff at many UK universities are staging a walkout over pay.
Unions say there is “strong support for the action” and 149 institutions are affected.
But university employers say support for the strike is “not widespread” and disruption has been “minimal.”
Rallies are planned for many cities over lunchtime as part of joint action between the University and College Union (UCU), Unison and Unite.
Union members say their pay has failed to keep up with rising living costs and have rejected a 1 per cent pay offer.
But university employers say the “vast majority” of staff think the offer is fair.
Officials from the UCU said early reports were that some buildings and departments, including many libraries, had been closed.
Teaching at Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University has been cancelled and the chemistry department at Loughborough is shut, they say.
The unions have rejected a pay offer of 1%, which they say represents a 13% pay cut in real terms since 2009.
They say universities will face the “most widespread disruption for years.”
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Staff, from porters to professors have walked out this morning in protest at some of the most sustained pay cuts since the Second World War.
“Nobody wants to be on strike, but a 13per cent real-terms pay cut as vice-chancellors’ pay continued to increase and universities’ surpluses built up simply is not fair.”
She said the unions had heard of closed departments and buildings and that some universities had cancelled all teaching for the day.
“If the employers try to spin the action as having little impact then it merely shows how out of touch they are with what is really happening on the ground at universities.”
picket line at Bristol University Staff are on strike at Bristol University
There was a 35 per cent turnout in the UCU strike ballot, with 62per cent voting in favour of strike action.
Universities had warned students that some classes might be cancelled and that some facilities could be closed.
Helen Fairfoul, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), told BBC News that fewer than 5 per cent of the higher education workforce had chosen to vote for strike action.
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