Higher education unions have submitted a joint pay claim for 2015-16 to the national employers' organisation, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).
The claim has been submitted by UNISON, UCU, Unite, GMB and EiS and covers two main areas - pay and pay-related equality matters - which the unions want to negotiate concurrently.
The pay claim deals with key issues that have an impact on UNISON members working on university campuses across the UK, such as the rising costs of living for higher-education workers.
The unions are asking employers to ensure that no worker in higher education is paid a salary below the living wage and for the sector to address the issue of a growing real-terms pay gap that has widened over the last five years.
UNISON head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman said: "This claim sets out the union's agenda to ensure that no one working for a university is paid below the living wage.
"The issues of growing job insecurity through the use of zero hours contracts, gender inequality that sees women being paid less than their male colleagues and low pay are key areas that the employers need to address as part of these negotiations."
The unions also want the employers to put in place regular equal-pay audits at every higher education institution that would enable each university to seriously address the gender pay gap.
In addition, the joint trade unions seek measures to provide greater job and income security for staff employed on casual contracts and to tackle the use of zero-hours contracts.
The unions have already held an initial exploratory meeting with the employer ahead of the first round of pay talks that are scheduled to take place on 26 March.
UNISON branches continue to urge those remaining universities that have not yet agreed to implement a living wage to do so.