The strike: a message for my students

This is a very scary situation. The university system has long exploited our good faith, and now seeks to repay us by savage cuts to our welfare in retirement, of about £10,000 a year on average. This is equivalent to a major salary cut now, after years of our salaries falling in real terms. Yet the empirical basis for the cuts remains unclear, with poor-quality modelling of future scenarios. The vote by the universities which sparked the strike appears to have been unfair, giving Oxbridge colleges with 300 students the same weight as universities with 50,000 students. I’ve never felt so worried about how little universities care about us. The whole thing is extremely troubling and genuinely scary. For more details, see here.

students support strikeIf dedicated lecturers in DPE (the Department of Political Economy) have chosen to strike, you should realise that this is a very, very, very serious matter. I know your education is important to you, but it is important to us as well. Most of us love to teach, and choosing not to do so has been an agonising decision for many strikers. (Our salaries will also be cut by £1000 or so for striking.) But the people who run Universities UK, the umbrella organisation for British academia, have not been taking us seriously.

If we do not stand up collectively now, many people will leave the UK academic system, or academia entirely, and future students will suffer. DPE students are members of a community over time, and the threat to our livelihoods is challenging the future of this community – not just 14 days of your education this term, serious though that is.

A significant majority of current students supports the strikes. Whether or not this includes you, I hope you will try to see things from our perspective, consider sending us a message of support, and write to the university to encourage them to reopen negotiations. You can find a link for how to do that at the end of this article.

But all of us hope that the universities will see sense, the strike will be called off, and your education will continue as before.

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