When University Strikes

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A Final Year Student’s perspective on the strikes:

If you are a student, you would be very aware of the discrepancy in relation to the lecturers striking and the reasons for this. For those of you who are not aware, this piece will hopefully resolve any confusions.

The first thing to understand is there are two major kinds of schemes on offer when it comes to workplace pensions. This being, Defined Benefit pensions (DBs) and Defined Contribution pensions (DCs). Lecturer’s and anyone that works in the public sector will usually fit within the Defined Benefit scheme (which is more favourable).

DB: There’s a particular formula: Most common number ( Cruel Rate)- 1/60th

1/60th of every year you are there for example – 40years/60 ( 2/3rds) x final salary (defined benefit- public sectors). This is a fixed amount. Therefore you know what you’re going to get.

DC: There are three possible ways:

1.        Fixed ( whatever the company decides) e.g. 7% of your monthly salary in a pension arrangement

2.      Matching Scheme (  but the company chooses the maximum ) For example if their maximum is 15% then they will match up any percentage you put in up until 15%.

3.      In 2011 you were forced to be in a pension scheme ( minimum is 1% match)- rely on means-tested social benefits

As you can see the Defined Benefit scheme is a lot better. On average lecturer’s are losing 10k a year because the universities decided to make this transition from defined benefit to defined contribution. When the lecturers found this out, they didn’t even bother with a threat of a strike, but just did it. It’s up to the Vice Chancellors of all 61 universities to agree with the lecturers striking or not and to end up being the majority instead of the minority. At the beginning of the strike, the VC’s on the side of the lectures were definitely a minority but there seems to be hope now. My university VC is one of the good guys.

I definitely support the lecturers striking. I just hate that we, that being students, are getting the backlash. I know that the only way strikes can be effective is showing the effect it’s causing to them as a market. Yes, I’m saying the university is a market. In this capitalist society, we are consumers investing in our education. We are losing valuable time and money.  I am a 4th-year student as last year I did my study abroad and therefore this is my final year. I have been getting firsts in all of the last terms and I know for a fact my assignments are already getting affected by the disruption of classes. I do a statistic module and I literally need to have contact hours. I phoned the Union and asked how is it just to do an assignment on topics we haven’t covered. They didn’t care. So here I am, researching extra as if this year isn’t stressful as it is already. Where’s my money back too hun? I also need all the help I can get for my dissertation.

It's very frustrating that my education is being penalised and I know there’s material on 'Moodle' etc, but that is not what I'm paying for nor is it the cause of my good grades (firsts) so far which I know will fall down as a result.  Having no reimbursement for no lectures or seminars is absolutely absurd. The cost of £9000 a year means that I pay £300 a week. If we are paying 'customers' we should be treated as such if we have no 'service'. Would I pay a painter without them painting the desired room? No. Why should this be treated any different?

I’ve also got some inside information from my lecturers informing me that if the strikes don’t go well this week, then the lecturers will also refuse to mark any students’ work/ exams etc and that graduation could be pushed back…. There are also some rumours about having no choice but retaking the year. I very much doubt that will happen, but we will see. I could just not do with the added stress as it is.

 

Written by,

Shona Freeman

FB: shonaleigh.freeman

IG: shona_leigh3