Reimburse St Andrews Students Using Striking Lecturers’ Withheld Earnings
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Whatever your stance on the industrial action being undertaken by academic staff across the country, there is one thing which we can all agree on as students: The University of St Andrews has done little to soften the impact which the strikes have had upon students.
The strikes have meant that hundreds of students are being affected by lost contact hours, stress about their grades and, in some cases, anxiety about their future careers. Despite this considerable disruption, the University continues to charge its students the same amount of money for their tuition, whilst refraining from paying striking lecturers.
What does this mean? It means that the University is on balance receiving money because of the strikes, while us students are left with a lower quality of education without financial compensation.
Although the witheld earnings are going to the Students’ Hardship Fund, such a generous move would count for little if money originally assigned for the Fund is then transferred for something else: the result would be profiteering. Clarity is therefore needed on whether the earnings are being donated in addition, rather than as a replacement.
Nevertheless, placing all of the earnings into the Fund is the wrong decision, as the strikes will continue to affect many more students than those who may require support from the Fund. Surely when the university finds itself with extra funds, it should prioritise repaying those it owes money to: fee-paying students who have lost contact hours, rather than setting it aside for another purpose.
The solution? The earnings which the University has withheld from striking staff should also be used to compensate students who have lost contact hours as a result of the strikes; lack of money is no longer an excuse.
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