A student from the University of Kent supports lecturers who decide to strike but is worried about the impact it will have on her education and the amount of money she will lose.
Criminology and Social Policy student, Pebbles Buckley, decided to write a letter to Vice Chancellor, Karen Cox, explaining why she thinks the strikes should be prevented.
She said in her letter: “I support the reasons behind staff members striking – I know I would too if I were ever in their position. However, it does not take away the incredible irritability and frustration that myself and fellow students will be feeling.
“I plead with you to understand the reasons why staff members wish to strike but also remain sympathetic to the drastic effect it will have on students University-wide during such an important time of the academic year.”
The strikes are due to begin on 22 February and last a period of four weeks. Lecturers won’t have to teach their students which is worrying especially for final year students who have a lot of work to do and deadlines to meet.
61 universities across the country could be taking part in industrial action after a disagreement between University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK (UUK) about proposals to end the defined element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme(USS).
UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current scheme.
Pebbles says her lecturers are in a dilemma about whether to strike. She said: “You can tell a lot of them are getting stressed about how they’re going to get our work to us if they do decide to strike. My supervisor hopes they can come to an agreement but I don’t think that’s going to happen to be honest.”
But for lecturers, taking action is the only way to make a stand. Pebbles said: “The whole reason why they’re doing this is because it is going to impact us and it shows the university how vital they are. We wouldn’t have a university without our lecturers and seminar leaders.
“Unless they do strike, I don’t think anything’s going to change because they do need to show the impact it will have and writing a letter or having a peaceful protest just isn’t going to have the same impact that striking will – that’s the whole point of it.”
Pebbles is not only concerned about how the university is going to support students if lecturers strike, but also about the amount of money that will go to waste.
Students at the University of Kent pay £9,250 a year in tuition fees. Pebbles managed to work out that if her academic teachers don’t teach her over the four weeks, she would lose £1,233.40.
In her letter, she compared this to a business, stating that she would like a refund for the service that she will not recieve.
She said: “If strikes go ahead then I would like a reimbursement of my money. Afterall, lecturers and seminar leaders will be losing a large chunk of their monthly paycheck so the only people who will be benefiting from this strike financially will be you, the institution. A lack of service in any other business transaction would warrant a refund – so why not now?”
After her letter had been added to a petition set up by the university’s women’s officer, Lily Dedman, over 1,000 students have signed it. She feels that when students realise how much money they could lose, more of them will try to stop the strikes from happening.
If you would like to sign the petition, go to: https://www.change.org/p/vice-chancellor-karen-support-ukc-staff-with-their-strike?recruiter=59621622&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive