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Why does supporting the strike have to mean jeopardising my degree?

Get your act together UUK


Most Edinburgh students support staff and their right to strike in reaction to the pension pay cuts that they're facing, but in cases where it’s having a disruptive and stressful impact on students, it’s becoming slightly unfair.

While many staff are going out of their way to minimise stress for students, for example, by answering emails on weekends and classing them as ‘non-strike’ days, in regard to certain aspects of the strike, such as students being prevented from entering buildings that they need to go into, we're getting the raw end of the deal.

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The difficulty comes when non-striking lecturers are still teaching and students are forced to choose between crossing the pickets, and being seen as scabs, or not turning up to a class that we will inevitably be assessed on during exams or by participation.

Similarly, students who rely on certain software for their dissertations that can only be found on university computers, such as those based in the Institute of Geography, have faced physical difficulties in attempting to access the buildings which had been blocked by a banner while being shouted at by staff which is simply not fair.

It would be different if students weren't being assessed on material missed during the strikes, but most still are. This puts us in a situation where if we want to support the strike, it's near impossible to do as well in our essays, dissertations and exams – especially when there's no sign of the strikes ending after these fourteen days are up.

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At this time of year deadlines for essays, dissertations and other projects looming are stressful enough, without the added pressure of having to face lecturers questioning your decision to cross the pickets – there should be some level of understanding on both sides.

Many students have emailed Principal Peter Mathieson in support of the strike and implored the senior university staff members to attempt to come to a compromise, so it’s not fair that we are stuck in the middle.

As the university relies on tuition fees to fund itself, it is understandable that paying students should be impacted in order to have the largest possible effect but there’s a limit to how much pressure should be put on us.

For fourth year students, in particular, the prospect of dissertation marking being suspended and the possibility of exams being disrupted is a worrying one. The problems of having a supervisor who has been striking have been helped with a two-week extension, which not everyone has been lucky enough to get, but this then eats into exam revision time which is also not ideal.

Fourth years have been told that graduations won’t be affected but with very little information available on the certainty surrounding the continuation of the strikes, there’s understandably room for distress.

Those lucky enough to have a grad jobs lined up might be depending on a certain degree classification, and to expect them to jeopardise that by not attending assessed tutorials or attempting to learn what's on the exam is asking a lot.

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I want to be able to respect the picket lines and to stand in solidarity with the members of staff who have supported me throughout my time at uni but when it comes to this last crucial semester of university, it’s impossible to do that.

Students have to turn up to classes that are still taking place, we have to use libraries beyond the pickets to research essays and we need to be able to sit our exams in the knowledge that they will be marked and our overall degree classifications will not be adversely affected.

Let's hope a compromise can be reached for the sake of staff and students. Get your act together, UUK.