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St Andrews University said the "vast majority" of the institution was working normally on Thursday, with 250 of 2100 staff having voted to strike. It has sparked a petition signed by tens of thousands of students demanding refunds for their lost teaching, Xinhua news agency reported.

"...this strike isn't inconveniencing the universities, as they are benefiting financially from our tuition fees, but rather the students".

The protest in Wales follows a ballot of 2,000 University and College Union (UCU) members at Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Bangor universities, and University of Wales.

More than 14,000 students at the university could be affected. United Kingdom law states staff taking part in the strikes are also not required to inform the University in advance.As a first year student at the uni, the strike probably affects me far less than it would a second or third year, for my grades do not go towards my final degree.

Employers argue the pension scheme is £6 billion in deficit, while the union says the proposals would leave a typical lecturer nearly £10,000 a year worse off in retirement.

"Downgrading the pension scheme will affect recruitment, retention and, ultimately, our ability to offer world-class higher education", he said.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "Jeremy Corbyn's support is a huge boost to staff striking today and we thank him for taking the time to send the message". After speeches encouraging students not to attend lectures or classes on strike days and to donate to the UCU strike fund to support staff in hardship, the crowd moved along Silver St to occupy the Senate House Lawn, where they had an impromptu picnic lunch.

Staff are striking on Thursday and Friday this week and Monday to Wednesday next week.

An online YouGov poll, conducted on the eve of the strikes, shows that just two per cent of students think university staff are most to blame for the dispute, with half pointing the finger at the university employers.

Amber Larke, who commutes from Ipswich, said: "As we don't know if our lecturers or GTAs are going to turn up until we get there, I'm going to be driving an hour or more, wasting petrol, to have to turn around and go home again". "We don't like the way the pensions situation is being imposed on us which is why we have taken this action".

"However, warm words won't save anyone's pension - if unnecessary disruption is to be avoided then university leaders across the country need to keep the pressure on Universities UK to get back to the negotiating table".

Meanwhile, UUK said the institutions affected by the dispute were doing all they could to minimize the impact of the industrial action on students.

The spokesman continued: "The changes proposed will make USS secure and sustainable, safeguarding the future of universities".

"We believe that fairly rewarded staff are the cornerstone of the university experience and that the proposal by Universities UK to substantially cut the pensions of members of the USS pension scheme will be hugely damaging if implemented", an NUS spokesperson said. "That strike makes sense as it inconveniences the people that are paying them".