University students fume as they are ‘not getting value for money’
The action being taken by the University and College Union (UCU) is expected to enter its third week despite impacting over one million university students.
Following two years of disruption due to the pandemic, university staff have imposed yet more misery on students by refusing to teach in protest at their employers’ terms and conditions.
In total, since the start of this month over 50,000 university staff have been on strike at 68 universities across the UK, which is set to last for up to ten days.
Sophie Corcoran, political commentator and first year student at Durham university told Express.co.uk: “The strike action is incredibly annoying and students should be demanding money back for missed learning.
“It is not right for universities to charge students full price when their learning is being disrupted whether that be because of strikes or them taking the decisions to ridiculously go online.”
She added: “The Covid measures have made university an absolute misery, and it’s wrong as the Government has removed all Covid measures but masks remain at my university. It’s a joke.”
Lecturers, trade unionists march through central London during the strike.
Despite students not receiving any widespread tuition fee reductions, The Telegraph recently discovered that Russell Group universities amassed a £2.2bn cash surplus after receiving £115 million from the Government in furlough money during the pandemic.
This is not the first-time staff members have been on strike, lecturers also went on strike at the end of 2021. Additionally, during the early months of 2020 staff halted teaching for over a month in a similar strike over pay and conditions, although no final resolution was reached.
However, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “This wave of strike action is a fight for the future of higher education and staff are proud to stand alongside students in the fight for an education system that treats students and staff with respect.”
Harry Baldwin, final year student at the University of York said to Express.co.uk, the strikes have disrupted his degree: “The UCU strikes at university have caused great disruption and chaos to my education.
UCU strikes in London
Lecturers, trade unionists protest outside the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) HQ in London
“I have missed out on vital learning time and delays in getting feedback on my assessments.”
The final year student suggested the strikes have not achieved their aims, he said: “So far, the UCU have failed to achieve their objectives and universities across the country have benefited financially due to the strikes.”
He added: “The UCU could adopt an alternative strike method such as reducing research for the university and reducing grant applications.
“This method would reduce the disruption to university students and put financial pressure on universities.”
UCU strikes are lasting for up to ten days
Strikes by the UCU, similar to these, are taking place across the UK currently (Image: Getty Images)
Defending the strikes, a UCU spokesperson said: “To resolve the pay and working conditions dispute UCU is demanding a £2,500 pay increase for all staff, as well as action to tackle unmanageable workloads, pay inequality and the use of insecure and exploitative contracts.”
University of Birmingham final year student Helen Eggleton added the strikes have continually impacted her degree, she told Express.co.uk: “During my first year, in 2019, industrial action by my lecturers resulted in a total of six weeks of missed teaching time across semesters one and two.
“After the disruption caused to my cohort from the coronavirus pandemic, I hoped that teaching this year would run more smoothly.”
Some students have also questioned the timing of the strikes with student assessment and dissertation deadlines for this year fast approaching.
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Anna Suffolk, another final year student at the University of Birmingham said to Express.co.uk: “My assessments do not factor the lost content and fundamental concepts I have missed due to strikes.
“I am worried that I do not have the sufficient knowledge I should have to now complete my final assessments towards my degree.
“Since the start of university in 2019, my course has been disrupted four times by strikes.”
The University of Birmingham said in a statement: “Our priorities are to protect student learning, particularly given the significant disruption that young people have faced during the pandemic, and to ensure that students and staff can continue to fully participate in campus life.
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“The University has been clear in communications with staff that, as is standard practice, any member of staff who chooses to take strike action will be deducted at the rate of 100 percent pay for each day they choose to strike.”