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We asked Manchester students how they really feel about the UCU strikes

A reported 82 per cent support the strike action

Since Semester two started nearly three weeks ago, students at the University of Manchester have missed six days of teaching due to UCU strike action.

This means, in a COVID-like twist of events, students have been left teaching themselves their degrees from their bedrooms.

With twelve more days of strike action originally scheduled across the rest of term, students are divided over whether or not to support the strikes. Though ‘talks with employers have started’ and some strikes across the country have been paused, UoM’s teaching staff are yet to mention if their strikes will end any earlier than planned.

Image credit: BBC

The Manchester Tab found that 82 per cent of Manc students supported the UCU strike action, which is fighting against the poorly paid, long working hours of teaching staff. With many lecturers employed in short-term contracts and having their pension rights revoked, strikers have taken up place in front of key university buildings to protest over the past few weeks.

On top of facing existing financial hardship, UoM refuses to pay teaching staff for the days they strike. A Tab investigation found Russell Group unis saved £11million in withheld pay whilst lecturers were on strike last university year.

Yet, UoM has made no mention of reimbursing students for the thousands of pounds worth of contact hours they are missing out on.

The anger of students thus appears to be directed not at striking staff, but at the university, saving money while students bear the consequences.

Here’s what a few had to say:

Second year, Law and Politics

“Lecturers have told us why they’re striking so I understand the principles behind it. Realistically, it feels as if the uni are just taking money out of their hands and ours at the same time.”

“We’re still expected to do assignments on content we have never been taught, or are only learning through a reading list. And without tutorials, everything just goes over my head.”

Second year, Accounting and Finance

“As an international student, why am I paying three times the fees of British students just to not have lectures? It feels massively unfair.”

“As an international student, why am I paying three times the fees of British students just to not have lectures? It feels massively unfair.”

“I completely support and understand the strikes – they’re disruptive but I don’t think striking workers have any other choice.”

Third year, Chemical Engineering

“The strikes have made almost no difference to me, but good on them.”

“I think its apparent that the quality of our education is getting worse; from first hand experience, this year’s exam was the hardest yet. I really hoped more staff (especially in the STEM departments) would’ve got involved to support the strikes.”

Second year, Psychology

“I like the strikes because it means more time in bed for a Wednesday night debrief.”

“I hope they get resolved but they have meant I don’t have to do my lab report anymore which is good I guess.”

Third year, Physics

“I’m getting increasingly pissed off because I fully support the strikes but the uni is doing absolutely nothing to ensure my education is fulfilled. I have no lectures for two of my final semester modules for like three or four weeks in a row.”

“The uni just doesn’t care because the outcome of my degree doesn’t to seem to matter to them so long as they get my money.”

The reality of the strikes is frustrating: if your studies have been disrupted, UoM’s Student Union provides guidance in filing a complaint to your Programme Director or Head of School.

Formal complaints against the university itself, and claims for a refund in tuition fees, can be made through Student Group Claim or the OIA.

Students can support striking staff by not crossing the picket line and contacting university leadership to express solidarity.

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