Dear Nancy Rothwell,
On the 21st August the Tab exclusively revealed that members of UCU (the University and College Union) would be striking again. Hearing this news made me consider deferring the year. Why should I be at a university that doesn’t actually teach me?
The Tab announced that the lecturers have between the 30th August and the 19th October to decide if they are going to strike.
This means that the first term of tutoring will already be well underway. By striking the lecturers are going to affect those of us who have coursework deadlines and exams at the end of first term. As a third-year student this will highly affect me, the rest of my year and the University itself. Grade averages will be brought down, student satisfaction will be brought down. The reputation of the university will be brought down.
I am a 2:1 average student. I am now a third year with the impending possibility that lecturers might strike again. This time they might take over 100 universities with them. That isn’t what bothers me. What bothers me is that if further strikes go ahead, my university career will have been ruined by the strikes. The education I pay handsomely for, hasn’t been fulfilled or achieved. I am terrified that I won’t even pass.
In the student contract, it clearly states that: ‘We [the University of Manchester] shall not be liable to you for events outside our control which we could not have foreseen or prevented,’ however the strikes could have been foreseen and prevented. To use the student contract as a reason for why we have seen no compensation or why nothing is being done to prevent further strike action is laughable. The strikes had been expected. It just seems so incomprehensible that the university and the lecturers would do this again in such a short period of time. This isn’t Brexit, how much negotiation is required?
During the strikes in March, I went beyond required study time.
I wanted to understand the work I was doing. I wanted to enjoy my education, and I wanted to actually learn. I still do. Last term wasn’t learning, it was cramming. It was the only time I’ve ever felt like dropping out of university. The stress and anxiety caused by the strikes had a powerful effect on my work. Not just that, but my whole attitude towards the university. I could see the morale of the other students, postgraduate-tutors and lecturers plummeting.
Since the strikes subsided, the University of Manchester and The University of Manchester Student Union released a joint statement explaining how the money accumulated from the striking lectures would be put back into the university. What could they have done? They could have compensated their students, like at the University of Salford. They admitted they were at fault. What has the University of Manchester done? Aside from adding to stress levels, they’ve only compensated third years. But what about the rest of us?
If this next lot of lecturer strikes go ahead and, are again, a month long.
I will have lost two months of my degree. If we break down a degree, we know that it is only actually six months of the year. This means for me to lose a month teaching from that year, I lose 25% of that month’s lecturer contact time.
I am empathetic with the lecturers. However, I pay £9000 a year for a course I have not been able to take full advantage of.
All severance due to the postgraduates who volunteered their time to support the students, victimised by the strikes. But what am I paying for, when the lecturers, who are paid, refuse to teach? It is a detriment to the reputation of the university.
(and anyone else who is fed up)
We need to keep talking about this. We can’t let our voices go unheard and these strikes to continue to take our degrees away. So please, students and everyone alike, share this letter and keep the conversation going. Let Nancy Rothwell hear you! #dearnancy