Don’t blame your lecturers for striking. Blame uni management for giving them no choice

This is why you should support your striking lecturers

Staff at 58 universities across the country have voted for strike action this year. Now, like clockwork, the same Vice Chancellors who have spent their time on six figure salaries overseeing a worsening mental health crisis, milking thousands out of students in tuition fees and payments for rat-infested accommodations, are now pretending they care about you. 

Any idea that university managements care about you or your wellbeing is nothing but an elaborate facade. University managements have always treated students appallingly, apparently seeing us as nothing more than cash cows to fill the universities pockets, but it’s ordinary staff who have to work for these profit-driven institutions. 

As it stands, uni staff are set to see a 35 per cent cut to their pensions on top of a 20 per cent fall in real term wages since 2009. Meanwhile, some universities are employing nearly half their tutors on precarious contracts, overworked, underpaid and without proper job security. 

If university managements are truly so “disappointed” by the strikes, then it’s a good thing they’re the ones with the power to end them, by agreeing to staff and trade unions pleas for fair pay and working conditions.

Yet the truth is that they won’t. Instead, university managements seem to want to turn students against the very people who supported us all through the pandemic and beyond.

What makes the beating heart of our campuses isn’t fat-cat Vice Chancellors who cosy up to the Tories. It’s the ordinary staff and students. Our unis know that without us, they’re nothing. That’s why they seemingly want to divide us.

Last year, students in rent strikes fought back and won nearly £140 million in rent rebates at 64 universities. Unis were embarrassed and they were scared. They were scared that we won and now they want to make sure no one ever beats them again. 

Student’s and staff’s struggles have the same enemies in management and the government. UCU head Jo Grady says: “Our working conditions are your learning conditions.” But unis know that by dividing us and trying to pit us against each other, we’re weaker.

After the uni experience many of us have had, it’s justified to feel frustrated by the threat of strikes, but no matter how much they pretend otherwise, the ones with the power to stop all of this are those at the very top.

They want you to get angry at your staff, they want you to hate the people fighting for their working rights and conditions. But no one wants to strike. People strike because they have no other choice. Whilst there are lecturers are living in tents and half of uni staff showing signs of depression, Vice Chancellors refuse to act, to improve the livelihoods of the staff who dedicate their lives for our education. 

When the strikes happen, don’t do as the millionaire Vice Chancellors or the Tory government want you to do. Don’t turn on the people who’ve given their all for you. Support your staff, show them the same solidarity they’ve shown students throughout the pandemic and direct your anger at the same people exploiting us. 

Related stories recommended by this writer:

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

• Staff explain why you should support the planned strikes

• 89 per cent of students blame ‘uni management’ not ‘staff’ for upcoming strikes