‘Our lecturers deserve more pay’: What Warwick students really think about the strikes

‘Saying that strikes negatively impact our learning is a way of deflection and lack of personal responsibility’

Last week the biggest ever university strike began. Over 70,000 members of staff across 150 UK universities participated, according to the UCU. With the disruption to classes impacting the majority of students, we wanted to know what Warwick students thought of the strike action.

Out of 530 Warwick students surveyed, 62 per cent voted that they are in support of the strikes, with 23 per cent voting to take a neutral stance because they claimed to not know much about the strikes. Only the minority expressed that they are against the strikes: one student claimed that the strike action as it is currently organised is “pointless, polarising and inefficient”.

However, this perspective is not widely held and the majority of students surveyed stood in solidarity with the striking academic staff. One student expressed annoyance for students who claimed the strikes would disrupt their education, explaining: “saying that strikes negatively impact our learning is a way of deflection and lack of personal responsibility.”

Many seemed against the view that strikes would negatively impact students: arguing conversely that the strikes will actually benefit students in the long term, as they will play a critical role in ensuring the quality of education at Warwick.

One student argued that increasing the pay and working conditions of academic staff is pivotal to the success of the university as a whole: “it is in our best interest to ensure that Warwick University is able to incentivise talented academics to work here.”

Another student agreed with this sentiment: “Not only do our staff deserve better, but how can students receive the best quality teaching if staff are burnt out and underpaid?”

Furthermore, many agreed that the distribution of funding at the university does not reflect what is most valuable to students: 84 per cent of students voted that universities have adequate funding but that it is not used fairly or effectively.

“Teaching staff have never been paid enough: they’re educating us, they should get the money we pay. The people at the top of the uni, who do not interact with students, earn disproportionately more than those who we see every day and who are responsible for our education.

“I’d like to think that the tuition fees I pay go towards those who teach me and not into the pockets of the richest.”

All students interviewed agreed that they’d be in support of a longer strike: “In the long run a longer strike might be a cheaper and more efficient option, as the changes that the academic staff are advocating for may well happen if the university representatives are under pressure to return students to learning.”

Even one student opposed to the strike expressed that they might be in support of a future strike: “I would support future strikes if they sat down with the student body to have a constructive conversation about the way forward. The university community is more than just the academic staff.”

On the whole, the majority of the Warwick student body seemed to be in support of the strikes, with all interviewed students agreeing that our academic staff deserve fair pay, protected pensions, and contractual security. Those opposed to the strike don’t seem to be against the sentiments behind it, their qualms only lie with the method of achieving this goal.

A University of Warwick spokesman said: “Only around one in seven colleagues at University of Warwick are members of the UCU. We respect the legal right for staff to strike but are disappointed that industrial action went ahead”.

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