On Campus, Opinion

10th February 2020

UoL Strikes – How Students Really Feel

Opinion pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflects the view of the Liverpool Guild Student Media or Liverpool Guild of Students.

As you may have heard, the University of Liverpool will be participating in the next round of strikes. UCU has announced 14 days of further industrial action to be taken place on 20-21 February, 24-26 February, 2-5 March and 9-13 March.

Vice-Chancellor Janet Beer has declared a statement on behalf of the University, professing that…

We recognise that the action may be a cause of concern and worry for you but please be assured that we will work hard to ensure that the impact on you is kept to a minimum’.

This statement is hardly reassuring, as the strikes are in fact causing huge impacts. By this point, many students are feeling frustrated by the constant disturbances these strikes are causing to their degree.

Discovering the Truth

Here at LGSM, we have gathered the opinions of students and how they really feel about the inevitability of more strikes. Please note that some students wish to remain anonymous.

Kayleigh: English Student

Each year, the strikes have caused more harm than good. I whole-heartedly support my lecturers and individual staff members after personally listening to their side of the story. I undoubtedly support their right to demand equal pay and gain a right for their pension. However, I can’t help but still feel neglected and betrayed by the university. I am in my final year, and time is precious. I already only have little contact hours a week, therefore the idea of missing almost 3 consecutive weeks of study is alarming. That is almost a third of a semester wiped away. It is so frustrating that after so many hours are missed, we are left to fend for ourselves. Like so many other students, I am constantly in a state of worry that the strikes are going to have detrimental effects on my final grades. I just wish the University would listen to the striking lecturers, the supporting students and do more to help us all out rather than kicking us to the curb and claiming they are doing all that they can.

Nainita: History Student

I support the causes of the strikes, but I think it has too much of a negative effect on the students. The strikers do not gain enough for this to happen.

Anonymous (female): English Student

For me, the problem with the strikes is not the lecturers; they deserve improvements on their pay, equality and workloads. Though it can be annoying for us students, we should recognise that the blame does not lie within the individual staff members who are, justly, striking. It lies with the University’s chancellors who have not implemented the changes that were previously promised.

Emily: Communication and Media Student

I fully support the reasons behind the strikes. It is obviously not fair that women are being paid less or that their pensions are being minimised. However, it is frustrating for students. Especially as I am in my third year now, I am worried that my assignments will be impacted due to having deadlines around the striking dates.

Hannah: Communication and Media with Business Studies Student

It is very important for students to unite with their lecturers when it regards important topics such as the gender pay gap. What is becoming more and more frustrating as a student in my final year is having strikes for disputes that are reoccurring with little settlement achieved – e.g. pensions. I wonder if there is another way that lecturers can make a stand against the matter, presented in a more effective form, rather than disrupting our lectures, assignments, exams etc. We are still paying for the weeks the strikes are happening, but why does the quality of our degree have to suffer?

Ellie: Vet Student

The strikes don’t really affect me other than the lecturers who form the picket lines. They make us feel really uncomfortable by asking us if we care or not, handing us leaflets, and making us feel bad for going into uni especially when they stand outside the library. Because, at the end of the day, it is not the students’ fault. It is down to the university, so I don’t understand why students have to be the ones that are worse-off by the strikes.

Anonymous (female): English Student

I get it, I really do. If my pensions were being axed, or if my contract was so unstable I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pay my rent, I would be striking too. As with many strikes, however, the wrong people are suffering. The chancellors are still pocketing my nine grand with very little to show for it.

Unfortunately, Universities have been made into a business. This marketisation leads me to ask that forgivable cliche question: ‘If I were to pay for any other service and not receive it, would I be within my rights to ask for a refund?’ The answer is yes. I want the service I am paying for. I also want my lecturers to have fair working rights. The only party that sees to be unaffected by these strikes are the likes of Vice-Chancellor Beer, on a presumably high figure salary.

Ed: Vet Student

We really are not affected by the strikes as much as other subjects. However, it obviously has negative effects on the students regarding their immediate studies. Yet, staff are not treated properly, therefore this has an impact on their teaching and how effective it is. If the strikes get the message across and achieve what they set out to do, then great. But the timing is always awful, as it is the latter half of the semester around deadlines and exams.

Syona: History and Film Studies Student

For most final year students, this has been the third round of strikes at the University. As someone who is undertaking a dissertation and completing my last, and most important, year, it is disappointing that I will lose valuable contact hours with lecturers.

Although students understand and support the reasons for strike actions, it is unfortunate that issues such as the gender pay gap have not been resolved at universities – especially as we will be entering the workforce soon. During the strikes, it is also unfair that students will be neglected in terms of rescheduled teaching and fees. Many students have taken out a loan, which we will have to pay back in the future. How is it fair for us to pay for a service and have not been provided with anything to show for it?

Anonymous (male): English Student

I understand the reasons for the strike and believe the University should improve the conditions for the staff, and work towards a solution with them. On the other hand, I feel irritated and disappointed that the strikes are going ahead. Being a third-year student with few contact hours a week, the strikes worry me as my education is put on hold. My first and third year has been impacted by the strikes and yet the University has done nothing to compensate students, despite the high levels of tuition fees we have to pay.

Beth: English Student

I totally support the lecturers as I think their working conditions are completely unfair. Most of them do not get paid nearly enough compared to the number of hours they work, and the idea that there is a need to strike again over the gender pay gap in 2020 is unbelievable. However, I do think the pressure on students to strike with them is unnecessary, as I really do not see how students going to lectures that have not been cancelled will hurt their cause in any way.

Moving Forward

We would love to hear what you have to say about the strikes and the effects they are having upon you.

To keep up-to-date with all news about said strikes, follow LGSM on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our website here.

Feature Image Credit: Pixabay