Strikes and a pandemic ruined my uni experience. How dare lecturers go on strike again?

I’m in third year and still don’t know my way around campus

Recently, ballots were cast regarding university strike action, with many unis either voting in the strike’s favour or pushing for a recast of voting, due to a lack of majority in the “for” category. As a result, many students such as myself have been left shaking their heads and worrying about the future of their degree.

As a third year student, my entire time at uni has been plagued with strike action and lockdowns. Before the first lockdown in March 2020, during my first year, my time at uni had already been affected by six weeks of strike action. My entire second year was held online; I didn’t set foot on campus once. Now, two months into my third and final year, I’m only just settling into to life on campus and face to face teaching again, yet this is set to be ripped away from me and thousands of other students.

‘I still don’t fully know my way round campus’

I often feel saddened when I reflect on my uni experience. My time on campus is bittersweet, as I enjoy it so much that I wish it wasn’t coming to an end in June, and wish I could’ve experienced more of it over the last two years. Friendships I formed in the first year of my studies, which should’ve been strengthened over the course of my degree, were weakened by the pandemic and are just now getting the chance to blossom. I still don’t fully know my way around campus, and I’m only just meeting many of my lecturers in person. All of these things should’ve happened in my first year, and further strike action will only help to reverse the progress I’ve made in this year so far.

Strike action also makes me concerned about my final grade. With a dissertation due in April, along with other assignments that contribute to my overall degree due in January, winter strikes would affect the help and guidance I would receive from my tutors, possibly resulting in me receiving a lower grade than I would with the promised teaching sessions.

‘It feels like a selfish and unfair move from those voting in the strikes favour’

Although I do understand why the universities are striking and it is very possible that many lecturers will choose not to strike in support of their students, it definitely feels like a selfish and unfair move from those voting in the strikes favour. Unfairly, educators don’t strike for weeks in secondary or primary institutions, so why do they do it in higher ones, when we are paying for the privilege of this experience?

Aside from the university experience being left in tatters, it comes down to what students are actually paying for. Despite the immeasurable disruption to my three years, I, along with all other third year students, haven’t been offered compensation. At this point, I’m struggling to understand what my £9,250 a year is actually paying for, especially considering the past year where I was not able to access any of my unis on campus facilities that I am entitled to on my degree. If the strikes go ahead, it’s likely that students will be discouraged from coming on campus, further missing out on their in person time, despite not receiving financial compensation for what they will miss.

The only way my time at uni could be close to rectified would be with a partial refund, both for the lockdown year and any time of potential strike action. Although this would in no way make up for lost time, it would make up for the lifetime of debt students will inevitably have to endure for an experience that was far from what was promised.

Strikes and a pandemic have ruined my uni experience – how dare strikes happen again.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• Lecturers at more than 50 UK universities have voted to go on strike this winter

• Direct your anger at the people in charge, UCU boss tells students ahead of new vote on strikes

• ‘Lecturers going on strike will not help students in any way,’ says universities minister