On November 5th, the University and College Union announced that 60 universities across the UK were scheduled to strike for eight days beginning on November 25th continuing until December 4th. They University and College Union come to the decision to strike after voting on pensions and on pay and working conditions.
What does this mean for students? For some students lectures were cancelled and for students like myself it meant lectures were canceled, but I still went to classes to continue to work on upcoming deadlines. The strike did not defer them and with lecturers choosing how to support the strike meant different things to different students. Some lecturers chose not to work more than what was stated in their contract, meaning they were not working outside of their office hours, responding to emails, and some chose not to be available at all.
I experienced trying to find a lecturer for a question days after an email went unanswered only to find that they were unavailable until after the strike, with the deadline for my proposal falling two days into the strike. Another lecturer of mine made themself available via email, made the classroom available to us for collaborative work. However, the biggest obstacle for students was to continue course work, some students were required to cross picket lines, while others like myself were able to walk in with ease, by taking a side entrance. The strike left the community on campus torn between wanting to support the staff and meeting deadlines.
When I looked into what brought on the strike as a last resort, I agreed that the strike was the best course of action to create better working conditions for lecturers and providing better services for students.
As someone who has depression and has studied at multiple universities, I did find that the University of Stirling was lacking in support for students and staff. I often felt that aside from the construction ongoing on campus, the campus was running with a skeleton crew. And even then, the staff was often abrasive and the campus as a whole didn’t communicate well.
When I spoke to students who are in their third/fourth year I found out that the uni’s situation for students has been substandard. With university housing shortages, months long waitlist for mental health services, and course changes multiple times during the semester leaving students confused.
The strike brought the campus to a halt, both with stopping lectures from taking place and the Cottrell building being occupied by strikers. This meant that all the offices that staff and students may need to conduct business, access support services, etc. were unavailable. Effectively forcing the university to acknowledge the demands of the staff and supporting students.
The strike did not put any halt on the end of semester deadlines, and with the looming general election on December 12th the campus had an unsettling feeling of despair. While, I may not find out how everything turns out for the students at Stirling or the Scottish in a post-Brexit UK, the one thing that I am sure of the students and staff of Stirling deserve better.