Durham students demand compensation for strikes and falling education standards

Durham students demand compensation for strikes and falling education standards

Petition to
University of Durham

Why this petition matters

Started by Stacey Josling
  • Over Subscription - resources are stretched and the extra tuition fess aren't going towards improving standards.
  • Strikes - staff aren't getting paid and we aren't getting our education.
  • Online lectures - not the same standard as in person lectures. There was no fee rebate last year.
  • Inflated prices - of extracurricular activities and accommodation.
  • Where is our money actually going?

We are in unanimous agreement that the past few years have been a trying time that has required a considerable amount of adaptability and resilience. However, the university’s approach to this situation and its aftermath has only shed light on glaring deficiencies in the attitude towards its very own staff and students that can no longer be ignored.

Oversubscription in higher education was undoubtedly an inevitable measure that had to be taken to adapt to the lack of pre-university examinations. However, due to the forewarning of exam cancellations for last year’s cohort, planning and managing space allocation should have been handled with greater care. Even if oversubscription was unavoidable, this shift in the student to facilities ratio required a corresponding increase in staff and service quality to act as compensation for the strain in resources. Some compensation has been provided to deferring applicants, but this has not extended to current students sharing the same resources only with a far greater number of people. This has caused perceptible degradation in the quality of all aspects of the university experience, which is poignantly reflected in the university’s drop-in league table ranking. The domino effect oversubscription has had does not exclude the inflation of house prices by an average of £20 per week per person, adding to the already nearly impossible cost of being a student at Durham.

Being a student is undoubtedly a heavy financial burden. Tuition fees in higher education have long been a subject of debate. However, recently there seems to be an ever-increasing lack of clarity surrounding what exactly this money is funding. Subtracting the result of a simple comparison calculation, with open university pricing, for a typical student’s tuition subsection from the total university fee would roughly leave three thousand pounds unaccounted for. Presumably, this money is used for upkeep and maintenance of facilities; however, it is difficult to believe that this amount of money, coming from every student (especially since student numbers have risen two-fold), is necessary simply for their functionality alone. Furthermore, as mentioned above, this money does not seem to contribute to any improvement or expansion of infrastructure either.

Students, who are unable to find reasonable destination points for their tuition fees, are tired of the university’s typical response to such allegations, which is that it contributes to wider enrichment. This is because this was hardly present during covid restrictions. Unlike other universities, Durham students have to pay additional subsidies to participate in many societies and sports. The final reasonable assumption as to the function of this unaccounted-for money would be increased staff pay; however, this has evidently not been the case due to the recent strike action, which directly reflects the inadequacy of staff pensions. Suppose the reasons stated above are not thoroughly adequate. In that case, the total loss of more than two teaching weeks over the year should be more than enough ground to ask for a fee rebate for everyone affected by this situation.

As students, we support the lecturer’s decision to strike, as it is the university’s implementation and handling of the situation and not the consequent, necessary actions of the lecturers, which is entirely at fault. The responsibility of delivering a high standard of education to all students throughout all allocated term time and providing adequate conditions for staff to facilitate this lies entirely on the shoulders of the university.

Overall, the quality of the student’s higher education experience no longer seems like a priority for Durham university. Over the past few years, the performance has only led to student disappointment and frustration. That is why immediate compensation in the form of a fee rebate for the ongoing handling of both the covid and strikes must be implemented. Ensuing this direct action, complete clarity on what tuition fees are funding must be provided and followed up by staff hiring who will all be provided with adequate conditions, so we are delivered the education standard that students were promised.