Edinburgh's independent student newspaper

December strike caused minimal disruption, but raises concerns over the future

Group of University staff striking with signs
Thursday 30th December 2021 02.12

Students have reported minimal disruption from the teaching strike that took place from 1-3 December, likely due to how few teaching hours they have anyway.

Brigid McMorrow,  a fourth year student, explained that “I don’t feel that the strikes have been massively disruptive. I study English literature and I only have four contact hours per week anyway, so that isn’t a lot of time missed.”

Additionally, Ephra Charlton Hutchinson, also in fourth year student, said “I have only one class a week so it hasn’t affected me at all.”

However, some students did feel their learning had been affected. Karuna Rahman, a third year English literature student, told The Student:

“While I understand that it’s not really up to the professors, I’m really disappointed that my literature seminar didn’t take place: it was a text that I was looking forward to the entire semester.”

Additionally many students have also largely expressed support for the strike over staff pay. Joe Robinson, 21, said “Thankfully it’s not affected me too much this time round, and I’m very lucky with how helpful my tutors have been about it.”

“What is most concerning is the future of teaching and of higher education in general. Who is going to want to go into academia if they get treated like this?”

Ms McMorrow also added that “I completely support the rights of all teaching staff to strike and I hope that the strike enables them to have their requests met.”

University of Edinburgh teaching staff are striking over pay and pensions. UK university teaching staff pay has fallen by an average of 20% in real terms since 2009. Meanwhile, the pay packet of the average vice chancellor has risen to £269,000 per year, according to the National Union of Students (NUS). 

When asked about the impact of the strike on students the Edinburgh University Students Association said:

“The Students’ Association believes the disruption is both justified and has been undertaken with consideration of the difficulties students have faced, particularly over the last 18 months.”

They added that “the University’s stance is currently not to offer any compensation to students given the limited nature of planned disruption. As a Students’ Association, we are campaigning for University leadership to support efforts to avoid any further disruption to students.”

Matt Crilly, the President of the Scottish branch of the NUS, when asked if they were doing anything to help students during the strike, said “the onus for minimising disruption for students lies firmly with university bosses; they must come back to the table to address the clear issues in how higher education is currently run.

“Students have a rich history of standing shoulder to shoulder with university staff, who have seen their pensions, pay and conditions slashed in recent years.”

It is likely that more strikes will take place next semester unless a deal is reached between employers and the University and Colleges Union.

Image via Flickr