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Student’s strike frustration

This article was originally submitted on the 29th March

As students, it is no rare occurrence to find ourselves wishing for a break. There are times when I want to abandon my studies, rent, cooking and general responsibilities in favour of a luxurious trip home – how tempting it is to hop on a train so that I can sleep for a week and catch up with my dog. 

The harsh reality is that trains are expensive, and we all have classes and essays that demand our attention. So why is it that a lull in tutorials, seminars and lectures due to strikes is so frustrating? 

The first one felt like a bit of a bonus. I had a week to catch up with my neglected work – and the absence of 9am tutorials was welcome. The second round was a little annoying. Then came the third. You know what they say: three strikes, and you’re out. That pretty much sums up my mood. I feel I have reached the end of my tether. 

It is not difficult to sympathise with and support our professors’ reasoning. In their shoes, we would all strike, too. What I resent is being caught in the crossfire between our professors and the higher-ups. How are we supposed to navigate the mixed messages? Our professors and tutors are asking us to support them and refrain from crossing the picket line, whilst the University is maintaining that there is no leniency for missed classes during strike action.

Two years into university, and I’m up to my eyes in student debt – and there is no promise of an uninterrupted, ‘normal’ university experience in sight. My first year was entirely online, and my second year has been consumed by ‘hybrid’ teaching, with most of my lectures being two years old and uploaded onto Learn every week. 

With exams and deadlines approaching, a gap in teaching is entirely unwelcome. Most of us have missed almost four weeks of content this academic year through no fault of our own, which hinders our learning, especially in the run-up to exams wherein half of the available essay questions will be focused on content we weren’t taught, and lectures we weren’t allowed access to. 

The combination of strikes and ‘hybrid’ learning really do make me wonder what I am paying over £9,000 a year for. We’ve received no monetary compensation over the last two years, which is particularly frustrating when the University makes money from strikes, rather than loses it. 

The University of Edinburgh are the winners, whilst the students and our teachers are the undeniable losers. Now we are nearing the end of the academic year, it is difficult to predict what the next one will bring. More ‘hybrid’ learning? Even more strikes that yield no rewards? Personally, I am crossing my fingers for my third year to be closer to the expected university experience. 

Image courtesy of Magnus Hagdorn