As a final year student, these university strikes are hurting my course mates and risk jeopardising our final grades
‘Pressure on third year students is already immense’
As a final-year history student, I have found this term to be the hardest few weeks of university yet.
As well as exams in January and a dissertation to be getting on with, we also have a 3,500 word research project due imminently. Having discovered that I am just below a grade boundary, I know I have to capitalise on every chance to increase my average grade this term.
Unfortunately, owing to the strikes, I genuinely believe my final university grade is going to be negatively affected, as I have missed weeks of tuition and have received no help for the essay which is due in a couple of days.
I support the right to take industrial action and I understand the reasons. I do question the decision to direct the strike action against students. Stopping academic research would arguably have a greater impact on the university. Nevertheless, I do not think it is the lecturers who are the issue here but rather, the university’s response.
Currently, we have been given an extra week to write our essay. But we still have no opportunity to speak to tutors or attend seminars. Is this really the best solution? Some tutors have been willing to rearrange seminars for their third years in locations off campus. They, at least, acknowledge the detrimental impact that the loss of teaching will have. Others are simply ignoring emails at a time when an essay is imminent.
The university, having failed to resolve the strike, needs to be clear and straight with students about the compensation and special consideration that is being put in place as a consequence. Frankly, an email from the school office stating: ‘We will do all we can to reduce the impact this has on you and keep you updated as best we can’ is not acceptable.
It is no secret that Bristol’s reputation for looking after the well being of their students in recent years has been poor, with stories dominating the national news. In light of this, the university’s piecemeal response to these strikes is even more shocking. Pressure on third year students is already immense, and keeping us in the dark while all tuition has been removed is guaranteed to increase this stress.
For any student this is challenging enough; for the significant number of students at Bristol dealing with mental-health problems, it borders on the irresponsible.
Another thing that I find outrageous are the vocal minority of students -not union representatives – who are criticising and heckling students for entering university buildings on strike days. For final-year students, studying in the library is not a choice.
One third-year Physics student told me: “The most obvious thing the university should be doing is communicating a lot more about potential outcomes and potential solutions.” The strike has been going on long enough for the university to judge its effects and plot a response. Hasty, last-minute and inadequate adjustments are not the answer.
As we look towards finishing our time at Bristol and completing our studies to the best of our abilities, third-year students need the reassurance of knowing that the university is putting in place a comprehensive plan that includes realistic deadline extensions, a regrading of any affected work – and financial compensation.