UK university strikes: students feel ‘cheated’ and ‘upset’ by staff walkouts

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Students studying at British universities have said that they felt “upset” and “cheated” due to the ongoing staff strikes and were concerned the walkouts may impact their grades.

University workers formed picket lines on campuses across the UK for strikes over pay, pensions and working conditions on February 20. It is the third time university staff across Britain have gone in strike in three years, with the last time being just before Christmas last year.

Up to 50,000 university staff, including lecturers, librarians, researchers and technicians at 74 universities have been taking part in two weeks of planned action staggered across February and March – depriving up to 1.2 million students of their lectures.

Saudi Educational Studies student Aishah, 25, who studies at Goldsmiths in London, has had three lectures and two seminars cancelled. Although there are PowerPoint slides for her lectures online, her dissertation is due in late April and she has found it particularly difficult to get in touch with her supervisors to get additional clarification on her work.

She said that she hadn’t told her family in Saudi Arabia about it because the news would be “upsetting for them”.

“I go to university every day, try to use the library and make use of the time, but it’s still upsetting,” she told The National.

Hua, 20, a London-based Psychology student, said she was disappointed to hear the news about some of her lectures being cancelled because of the walkouts.

“I’ve had three lectures cancelled due to the strike,” she said.

Although Hua has had her deadline extended, she is concerned that the missed lectures might mean she might not do as well in her essays.

Up to 50,000 university staff, including lecturers, librarians, researchers and technicians at 74 universities have been taking part in two weeks of planned action staggered across February and March – depriving up to 1.2 million students of their lectures.Wikimedia Commons

“The cancelled lectures are essay-written examination-based modules so I am a bit upset and worried about the content,” she said.

Weishuan Huang, a 29-year-old Taiwanese Social Entrepreneurship student, told The National: “I’ve been affected a lot by the strikes. Lectures have been cancelled, workshops, other deadlines for essays have changed so the study schedule has changed a lot and we have to adjust.

“I can understand it from the perspective of the staff - they want fight for their rights but as a student I would like to know more what they are fighting for.”

“We have a close relationship with them and directly learn from those teachers so we know they don’t want to cause trouble, but at the same we want to learn. So it’s a bit tricky for us.”

“Back in my home town, students don’t face these kind of situations, where professors go on strike.”

Her course mate Elize King had one of her lessons on the Zoom video app last week instead of at the university due to strike.

“To be honest I feel a bit cheated, because how am I going to gain the full knowledge of what I’m expected to be learning when we are losing so many weeks?", she said.

"It affects you academically as well as financially - you’ve been robbed for money that you’re probably not going to get back and you haven’t got the knowledge for it either, so it works both ways."

“You can’t take money from people and not deliver the service,” she added.

The strikes are due to carry on until March 13.

Updated: March 1, 2020 12:09 AM

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