We spoke to the people on the picket lines at the Durham UCU strike
Lecturers claim it’s about much more than pensions
You may have turned up to your lectures yesterday to find no one there to teach. That's because, if you somehow hadn't heard, they're on strike. We spoke to the lecturers and students on the picket lines in Durham to find out why.
Assistant Prof. Dr. Noam Leshem and Research Postgraduate Vanessa Schofield (Geography)
"This is about more than pensions, it's about a systemic issue in the wider devaluation of higher education."
"We can't shirk responsibility – the University is part of this wider devaluation in the same way that students have been forced to take on this huge debt to fund their higher education"
"I personally support all students in writing to the Vice Chancellor and University in asking for your money back. I don't treat my students as customers, but if the University wants to treat students as customers then it's right for students to ask the University to fit the bill."
"I think Durham students aren't given enough credit, they're willing to tackle the big questions. The message we have got is immense support, a recognition that this is part of a bigger problem we all face. I encourage them to stay engaged."
Francis Pritchard, Branch Secretary of UCU Durham and Professor Peter Craig (Maths Department), Honorary Treasurer of UCU Durham
"We're striking because our pensions are under attack – and they're not just our pensions, they're the pensions of the future as well…this is part of a wider national and international dispute."
"Students have been fantastic, really supportive. I'm really pleased, I think it's a sign that we are really in the right on this one…I haven't had one student say to me that we shouldn't be doing this."
"Ask for your money back! I would write to the Vice Chancellor and say 'I haven't been taught for so many days', and ask for your money back."
"It's highly rational, and quite clear – we do not seek to damage your education. This is the only lever we have."
Students: Jasmine Simms (Education), Rosie Russell (Theology), Zoe Tongue (Law)
"This whole thing is about the marketisation of education, and it's going to put off people from going into academia."
"There has been a lot of support for lecturers, but there's a lot of confusion as well – I'd definitely encourage students to find out what it's really about."
"There's been a failure from the university to show support to UCU – it's been really weak of the Vice Chancellor, unlike other universities' Vice Chancellors who have come out in support of their lecturers."
Dr Lauren Martin, Dr Oliver Belcher, Dr Elizabeth Johnson, Dr Siobhan McGrath, Dr Jesse Proudfoot (Geography Department)
"I think this is part of the casualisation of education where there are more and more people on short term contracts. It's an issue that is also gendered – it's particularly important for women, early career people and future academics."
"In general I think students have been very supportive…it's very hard for them, and we wish that there was any other choice. We've been fighting this battle for years, this didn't happen overnight. We tried everything else we could – it's terrible that the students have to suffer."
"Email the Vice Chancellor, ask them for a meeting, think of anything else you can do to put pressure on the university to settle the strikes immediately."
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