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Why students are deciding to join the UCU protests

They’re standing in solidarity with our staff

I'd be very impressed if you didn't know of the University strikes by now (you know, with the posters, leaflets, cancelled lectures and protesters on campus). However, if by chance you've missed all the commotion, here's a quick low-down. Many members of staff at the university have decided to go on strike in response to Universities UK's decision to axe pensions for tens of thousands of University staff. According to the UCU (University and College Union – who are coordinating the strikes), it will continue until 'we achieve justice for our members' by way of 'meaningful negotiations'.

Many of you would have been surprised to see students protesting alongside Uni staff around campus. So, we spoke to Luke Savidge, who joined the picket line around Avenue Campus this week, to find out why he decided to take part in the protests, and why he thinks others should too.

So, why did you decide to take part in the protests?

As an aspiring lecturer, I felt like I had to protest for both the lecturers' futures and my own. Without my own personal context, I would have joined regardless as I think the situation is appalling, but this made me even more determined to stand up for what I believe is right.

What actions are you taking to show your support?

I have been part of the picket line on both days of the strike so far. Moreover, I've joined the on-campus rallies and will be joining the rally on Monday from 12-2. My friends and I have made our own picket signs and brought food to the lecturers to try and keep spirits up. I've also tried to use social media to spread the message about the strikes and hopefully encourage some people to join themselves.

How important do you think it is for other students to support their lecturers by joining the protest?

I feel it's very important that other students join in, but only if they want to. I don't want to pressure or force anyone to get involved. One of the perks of living in the UK is that you are free to make your own political decisions. However, if you are considering supporting the staff I can't encourage you enough. I've never felt like part of a community more than in the last few days and you can really tell how much it means to the lecturers that you've decided to take part!

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Are you going to continue to attend lectures, or are you going "on strike" as well?

The decision of whether or not to attend lectures has been a difficult one, as obviously I've still got deadlines and a degree to pass. I've not attended classes yet though.

Have you received any backlash from other students regarding your decision to take part?

The reaction from other students, that I know of, has been mainly positive. As I've said, I felt a real community spirit amongst the students taking part and those I've spoken to.

What is your opinion on the petition calling for a refund of the lectures that have been missed as a result of the strikes?

If I'm honest, I think the petition is a bit ridiculous and misses the point. What's more important, £300 (or whatever the petition is calling for) or a potential loss of £200, 000 over the lifetime of individual lecturers?

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