‘Everyone deserves a good wage’: This is what Durham Uni students think about the strikes

The strikes continue to be a hot topic of debate as students are affected in different ways

It has escaped no one’s attention that last month it was announced that eighteen days of strikes were due to take place over February and March, and students were set to be left with only nine teaching days in February, losing nearly £1000 in tuition fees.

Though we may currently be in a two week pause of strike action whilst the University and College Union (UCU) is in negotiations over pay and pensions with the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), the strikes are still at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

With students caught in the middle of the dispute over pay, pensions, job security and the gender pay gap, The Tab Durham asked Durham students what they really make of the strikes.

The majority of students asked say that they do support the strikes.

Many seemed to empathise with the UCU members, such as one first year student who said “my mum is a teacher, so I understand their reasons behind striking”. Another adds that “the university needs to appreciate the extra stuff staff do” and that if students are “mad about missing things, be mad at the university not lecturers”.

The strikes evidently affect certain students more than others due to the nature of their courses and departments. Some say they have “missed a couple of things here and there but not loads”, or even “literally nothing”. One student is worried about the “lack of seminars” they’ve experienced “while [their] friends attended some as they were unaffected”, since seminars or tutorials tend to fall fortnightly and on different days depending on individual timetables.

Contrastingly, some students’ summative questions had to be changed due to a large number of missed lectures, as a first year English student points out: “I only have six contact hours a week and now they’ve fallen down to two”. But they add that it’s a “complicated situation with no perfect answer”.

The on-going cost of living crisis is a major factor for the strikes. One student asks: “What else are they [the lecturers] supposed to do?”, as they believe “in this time, everyone deserves a good wage”.

However, the cost of living crisis goes both ways. Students are paying £318.97 for each week of term, and so some don’t support the strikes as they believe they are “paying too much” to not have classes, and are “left wondering what I’m paying £9250 for”. Others state that they support the strikes as long as they “have [their] money returned”.

Another way students are impacted is due to the fact that lecturers don’t have to let students know if they are striking. Therefore, many students head to classes even if they’ve been cancelled. One student told The Tab Durham that she supports the strikes, but had to walk from Elvet Riverside to the Maths Department via Cardiac Hill not knowing if the lecture was on – it wasn’t.

Durham University has said it “welcomes” the current pause of strikes, and the original statement on the university website reads: “There is continued dialogue between Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), Universities UK, UCU and other recognised Trade Unions in an attempt to reach a resolution to the dispute.

“This includes a pay negotiation meeting taking place on Wednesday 25 January 2023. The University welcomes that ongoing dialogue and hopes a resolution can be found that avoids the need for industrial action.

“We understand that our students may feel concerned about this announcement. We would like to reassure you that detailed mitigations are in place to support our students so learning opportunities continue to be met.”

You can read the joint statement from the UCEA and the Higher Education unions here.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

You’ve nominated them, now it’s time to vote for Durham’s most eligible bachelor

 Cuth’s Charity Fashion Show 2023: Meet the Models

• Eight things in my nine grand Hatfield room that would put my non-Durham friends in a coma