We’re the international students paying 22 grand a year and we are sick of strikes

How do the strikes impact our international students at Sussex?


We are in the middle of four weeks of industrial action, the second lot of strikes this academic year. And yet Sussex, being the 25th most international university in the world, has not addressed the unique anxiety that impacts the 5, 000+ international students because of this.

Strikes cause substantially more anxiety for students with Tier Four visas. As part of having a student visa, international students are not meant to miss more than 10 contact points in a row. The Home Office says involuntary absences caused by strikes should not affect this. But when students have class and choose not the cross the picket line and support the strikes, this issue becomes more complicated. So stress around absences is heightened for international students.

As for supporting the strikes, Ola, a First year from Poland, says that although she “understands that the teachers want to fight for their rights, I think things could have been done differently.” I think this shows how international students are feeling right now, we are wasting our money and we are being neglected.

We are paying very high fees and yet are left to”sit in our rooms for four weeks” as Ola puts it. Mishal, a First year from Kuwait, points out the massive emotional and financial decision it is to move countries for education, and she says “I expect a certain level or standard of education that the strikes just hinder.”As students, we don’t often want to be seen as customers, but the reality is the university is a business in its current state. So, though all student’s feelings are valued, it pains me to see home students complaining about their nine grand, whilst I am paying double, and others even more.

The compensation from the 2019 strikes also felt like a “sorry excuse” as Mishal puts it, as it even overlooked giving us more compensation, even if we still pay higher. Ashlynne, a foundation year student from America, told The Sussex Tab: “It stresses me out more because I pay so much more than UK students.” So, although the compensation was for the stressed caused by strikes, it’s likely that we are more stressed as we are wasting more money. 

As for our exchange students, Cecilia, a third year exchange student from America, says that she has used this time to explore the UK and catch up on readings, however, she also feels “intellectually stagnant, especially when we are choosing and paying to be here.”

Georgia, another exchange student from Australia, also mentioned the uncertainty and anxiety about compensation, that is even more unsure for a visiting student. And, although possibly superficial, I believe it is important for Sussex to recognise they are hosting these students and are not giving them the experience they deserve.

And on top of this, the impact of strikes on mental health is a massive issue. Many students mentioned strikes causing issues with their routine and making them feel isolated or lonely. Some home students might pop home to avoid this, but for many international students this is simply not an option. 

So let’s put end to these strikes, for us international students, and for all students who deserve better.