The marking strike :SWatch
It's happening because university staff have only been offered a 1% pay rise, which is less than inflation, so it's basically a pay cut. This has been going on for several years, and it now works out as a 13% pay cut. At the same time, university bosses have had an average 5.1% pay rise
I know they don't really want to do it - they've been doing one day strikes all year, but the universities are refusing to budge It's not like the lecturers are doing it for fun either - they'll lose anything up to 100% of their pay.
So, they've given the universities 10 weeks notice, and if management don't get their act together some of us (me!) won't be graduating on time, which sucks. At least, though, we'll still be able to get all of our coursework in and sit the exams rather than having to faff around waiting for new exam dates.
I'm a bit conflicted over the whole thing - I think lecturers should be paid more (some, especially PhD seminar takers, are paid less than minimum wage, for instance), but on the flip side I want to graduate on time What do other people think?
Student life, in partnership with UEA
The way managers in UK universities have been acting is atrocious - record-breaking pay rises for themselves whilst the academics and lecturers who actually do the work are penalised year after year (not to mention the introduction of 'Zero-hour contracts'). This is nothing short of an attempt to casualise and deprofessionalise academics in the UK.
Considering the UK's strong history as a leader in education, research and innovation, it is appalling that those responsible for that great reputation i.e. the lecturers and researchers, are being undermined by managers who make little or no contribution to the daily lives of students.
Another thing to remember is that the right to strike/withdraw labour, was a hard-won right to protect workers from exploitation. Considering recent developments in the economy, many students will be entering professions/jobs where they may need to call strike action themselves to protect their terms and conditions in future - we may be in the same situation in the future that the academics face now - I hope we receive more sympathy if/when that time comes
Given my hopeful summer plans, I'm not tooo worried about graduating on time but I feel really sorry for everyone aiming for post-grad education and grad schemes where they will need to know their results. I support everyone's right to strike however they chose, but I wonder if they couldn't have chosen a different form of protest. I do think this will result in negative press, and not keeping students onside. Meanwhile, it won't really impact on their own careers. Whereas, if they had chosen to stop another area of work e.g. research (I accept this could be difficult because of grant funding etc) it would still hurt the university bosses (maybe more so) but would have less of an impact on students.
A 17% pay cut in real terms is a lot, and I do think that's unfair. I think it's also very hard, because the university in my city is one of the biggest employers, and in a way, I would rather they kept a cap on top lecturers pay than cut jobs from admin staff etc who might find it hard to get jobs elsewhere. They are also investing in building projects which will be useful for research which is again generating jobs in the region.
I think the exploitation of PhD students is a seperate issue, and one that will not actually be addressed by this strike. My university has a commitment to the majority of teaching being done by well paid staff- the lowest pay-grade who have a proper teaching load are senior technicians who often lead labs. They are not that well paid compared to lecturers, but are at least paid a decent wage above the national average. PostDocs and PhD students will occassionally cover for lecturers, or give lecturers on their own research, but aren't asked to take on lots of teaching responsibilities, which is good. I feel that some top universities have more of a problem with making PhD students do what is probably an unfair amount of teaching.
I know I am being selfish in feeling conflicted about this, but I do think that lecturers do need to seriously consider the impact this strike will have on their graduating students. I think a lot of them may end up breaking the strike anyway- I know many have broken the one day strikes at my university.
Also, if exams are unmarked, what will happen with retakes etc?
I feel that by striking over the summer, the lecturers could cause some very serious problems for universities and students (obviously to an extent this is their aim).