"It will be young people and the next generation of students who will also suffer if their education deteriorates because employers are forced to make cuts to pay more into pensions"a Universities UK spokesperson said, frighteningly focusing the consequences of negotiations onto students. But we students know that staff wouldn't have turned to this unless it felt absolutely necessary. As scary as such words sound, the aggressive assault on staff pensions absolutely justifies action, as I think most students would agree. But it is the management of them and their sometimes deficient minimising of disruption that is alienating many students. Initially, staff were told that they would not need to reschedule any teaching time absorbed by the strikes, which is totally understandable. However, I was lucky and have had my already sparse seminars (a mere 2 per module per term) moved to a non-strike day. Staff have been told to compensate missed hours by uploading resources, PowerPoints and notes for those lectures and seminars. Making resources accessible barely impacts on lecturers' striking rights and striking days, so this should be understandably expected by students. Unfortunately, some of my less fortunate friends have tutors that are refusing to do so, leaving them totally in the dark over summative essays that, because of administration staff striking, are still required on their original submission date. This of course puts them in a severely disadvantaged position. Not to mention that Summer examinations have been written and submitted before the strike action, so students will be tested on knowledge they have not been taught. This seems a little backwards.
This February, sixty-one UK Universities and their University and College Union (UCU) staff committed to strikes, beginning with two out of the five-day timetable and snowballing into a full week of action from the 12th March 2018. Now mid-action, there is no way that you haven't heard of these strikes. The news has been plastered with the problematic pension dispute behind the picketing, in which lecturers are being poached of nearly £10,000 per year. But there is far less information on the subsequent feelings of the students being affected here. Driven by increasing frustration of missed contact hours and aggravated by the awful weather, I have written my reactions to the strikes and how they can, and should, be handled in a way that prioritises minimising disruption to the students that are suffering alongside staff.