‘The situation is severe’: This is what UEA students really think about the strikes

‘Lecturers deserve to be valued and I would take that over my education’

You might be wondering why the strikes are happening, or have opinions of your own on them. The UCU says this will be the biggest university industrial action it has ever seen, so what is going on at UEA?

The strikes are hitting the uni on the mission to improve and address pay, working conditions and pensions cuts. Students are divided on opinion as to the value of the strikes, but the majority seem to sway in support.

Maia Shouksmith, second year in medicine at UEA said: “I’d very much support them in the fact strikes are protesting cuts but there are people who are being paid a lot more than others who could take a cut in order to maintain the staff that we do have – like lecturers who care for their students on a daily basis.”

Maia Shouksmith, second year, medicine

Maia says she is concerned about crossing the picket line for extracurricular activities such as swimming or using the library and said “sometimes there is pressure on the students from peers which I don’t think is fair.”

Harry Henderson, second year History said: “To take collective action against how the government disregards and mistreats the higher education sector is something I can personally get behind.

“My father in the NHS is doing the same, playing a critical role securing stability within our country. Likewise in terms of further education, I can see eye to eye with the staff’s reasons for striking.”

Harry Henderson, second year, history

70,000 staff nationwide are expected to walk out affecting 150 universities. The UCU said: “Disruption can be avoided if employers act fast and make improved offers. If they don’t, strike action will escalate. Staff will also continue industrial action short of strike (ASOS), which includes working to rule, refusing to make up work lost as a result of strike action and refusing to cover for absent colleagues.”

Emily Hickford, second year in international development with anthropology said: “I think that the strikes are completely valid, if workers are not getting paid or are feeling stretched then it’s fair.

“Lecturers should exercise their right and students should be in support of that. I’ve seen some students demonising the strikes but the point is to demonstrate the value of a union’s labour.”

Emily Hickford, second year, international development with anthropology

“I know there are parts of my education I relied on for the direction of my career that I am missing out on but lecturer’s deserve to be valued and I would take that over my education.”

Lauren Jay, second year biological sciences said: “I completely understand why they (the staff) are striking and that they need to, for job security and pensions, but at the same time I’m very aware that some courses are going to miss much more due to the strikes than others, as well as certain modules within courses.

“18 days is also a large amount of time, but shows the severity of the situation as there are cases of lecturers striking that before this year wouldn’t have done so.”

Lauren Jay, second year, biological Sciences

Other students have commented on the danger to their education. Third year students faced COVID-19 and now fear missing out on crucial final lectures due to the strikes. It is clear that the impact of the strikes is being felt and the pressure to not cross the picket line only grows stronger the longer the strikes go on.

Another 14 days of striking is expected to take place and leaves the question, will this become the norm? Will the strikers voices be heard?

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