Strikes: Stop demanding a refund, demand the education you came for
A refund won’t make a difference to your future, education will
With the UCU strikes, protests and lectures/seminars cancelled, it is a stressful time for university students. Students are having their education used as a pawn in a power struggle which sees UUK refusing to offer fair pension to tutors, leading to necessary industrial action. Students, however, have been caught in the crossfire of this battle with their education, tuition fees and future put on the line.
Many have been calling, and lobbying Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell, for compensation for the teaching hours lost. Some have even attempted to calculate the cost of each seminar/lecture, and are demanding a refund for the hours of teaching lost. The argument is simple; students have paid for a commodity (education) which they have not been delivered and, as some consider education a commodity, should be entitled to a refund like any other product.
My question, however, is why students aren't instead demanding the education they came here to receive? Losing out on valuable teaching hours is not like buying a piece of fruit, getting home to find it's mouldy and getting a refund. The connotations of the hours lost potentially have huge consequences for our futures, more than a small refund would repair.
Whilst the university has promised that grades will not be affected by the content missed, the same cannot be said for future job interviews where another candidate with the same degree and grade as you will have had more teaching in their area and will be more qualified for the job. No medical student can tell a patient 'sorry, I wasn't taught about your illness at uni because of strikes so can't help you. Hey, at least it didn't affect my grades!' The valuable object you're losing here is not your fees. You're losing your education.
There are also ideas floating around that the university should reinvest the fees into improving their facilities. The university saves a lot of money as a result of the strikes, as they do not have to pay tutors for strike days. Any student who values their education should surely be against this. Do you really want the university to take the money they save from the education you've lost, and invest it into making sure that the next generation is better prepared for a job than you are?
You surely did not come to university for no reason. You came to university to learn the skills required to climb the job ladder, to become qualified to work in the field of your choice. You came to university for an education to build a future. Is this not more valuable than fees?
Yes, terms of the strike state that tutors will not teach rescheduled lectures/seminars. This does not mean you have to sit quietly and take it. You shouldn't be made to suffer, you've done nothing wrong. The hours lost should be the university's problem, not yours.
Lobby the university about the fees you've lost. Lobby the university about the impact tuition hours lost will have on your grades. But I urge you to lobby the university over the hours of education you're losing. Call for the teaching hours you came to university for. A portion of your fees back in your bank account may seem like a fair form of compensation, but they won't make a difference in ten years' time when your dream job relies on information and knowledge you did not receive.
Think about what your education is worth, and start shouting about that.