• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

We want a normal education

BySophie Kent

Sep 28, 2023
Image of mcewan hall on an autumn day

Seeing the prolongation of the strikes brings one saying in particular to my mind; if you don’t laugh, you’ll surely cry.In the wake of a series of clashes over pay and working conditions across various sectors in the UK, strike action will continue next week with students being unfortunately caught in the crossfire. Our generation, uniquely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic just three years ago, are currently facing a new hurdle in our journey through education as the UCU Edinburgh vote to continue strikes between 25 th and 29 th September.

The further disruption is delivering the troubling message that the employer body, UCEA, value a bottom line over stability among higher education institutions nationwide. We have to remember (how could we forget?) that many of us have had laughable secondary and tertiary education experiences so far. We share the not-so-fond memories of sitting in isolation on Zoom calls whilst teachers fumbled around attempting to unmute themselves. Collecting GCSE and A-level results which appeared to have been plucked out of thin air and, now packing up for university with no real experience in sitting external exams. For our parents and grandparents, the idea of receiving a blank degree is unthinkable, and yet the marking boycott made it a dire reality for the class of 2023. So, I wonder what will be the student response to this risible turn of events? It is an embarrassing miscalculation if anyone assumed this would be taken lying down.

Students have already begun staging their protests and staking their claim in the fight against the lunacy they’ve faced throughout their university and school careers. Graduates such as Tia O’Donnell and Milly White attended their graduation ceremonies proudly adorned with signs stating, “I want a refund”, gained national attention and the sympathetic support of thousands of others who share their exasperation and resentment for those responsible. I am certainly amongst these supporters, and have to express my admiration for the manner in which they did it. Their confidence and clear messaging places them in direct opposition to the bumbling negotiation efforts of the boards. That being said, are we really surprised that taking a stand for social change comes so naturally to the generation who made Katniss Everdeen and Elle Woods our heroines?

Undoubtedly, the failure to resolve disputes will facilitate the politicisation of an entire cohort, whose collective memory of the period will reflect negatively on government and employers. A sense of urgency for change is rumbling amongst this generation who are witnessing in real time, the impacts of Covid-19, the cost-of-living crisis, and the biggest year for striking in decades.

We know that overwhelmingly, young people in Britain already identify with left wing political parties. This may be the metaphorical shove that the newest members of the electorate need to beckon in a wave of Liberal Democrats, Labour, and Green representation. And as long as the Conservatives neglect to step in, they may as well kiss our ballots goodbye in 2025.

McEwan Hall, Bristo Square, University of Edinburgh” by dun_deagh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.