Support UKC staff with their strike
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*LETTER TO VICE CHANCELLOR KAREN COX BY PEBBLES BUCKLEY*
I am writing to you today in regards to the Industrial Strike Action which is due to occur later on this month. It is unclear, as of yet, whether or not Kent staff members will be partaking in the four-week-long strikes – information my lecturer assures me will become known in the coming weeks. However, I’ve also been assured that if Kent does choose to take part in the strikes then pretty much all of the academics who teach me will be striking – because why wouldn’t they? It is atrocious that the staff members who this entire University depend on risk having their pension cut by around 40% (which, online research informs me is around £200,000 for the majority of academics). I am sure you can agree that our teaching staff being treated this unfairly is disgusting – for would we have a University without the amazing staff who teach us?
I support the reasons behind staff members striking – I know I would too if I were ever in their position. However, it does not take away the incredible irritability and frustration that myself and fellow students will be feeling. On my final taught term of my final year, this is the last thing I need – having already been feeling the stress of having to write more than twenty-five thousand words for assessments, preparing for a number of exams as well as keeping up with seminar work and reading. We are undoubtedly already at an incredibly stressful time of our lives and this only adds to it.
Now let me give you another concept: if you pay for a party to have catered food and then the catering company never show up with your food what happens? Of course, you demand a refund. According to ‘Save the Student’ I pay £61.67 per hour for my six contact hours a week (this is based on the tuitions fees that the University chose to increase to £9,250). This means that if all of the academics who teach me choose to strike then I will have paid you £1,233.40 for a service which I am not receiving – because I would miss out on twenty hours of teaching. I do not support the marketisation of education and despise the business like approach which is now taken towards students. However, if you’re going to treat it like a business then so am I. If strikes go ahead then I would like a reimbursement of my money. Afterall, lecturers and seminar leaders will be losing a large chunk of their monthly paycheck so the only people who will be benefiting from this strike financially will be you, the institution. A lack of service in any other business transaction would warrant a refund – so why not now? You may say that you have not chosen for academic teaching staff to strike but nor have we, the students.
Students shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences that a decision made by Universities UK has made. We work hard and contribute enormous amounts to University life. We pay substantial and quite frankly unjustified fees to this institution to consequently face the possibility of losing up to four academic weeks of the year when we only have twenty-five teaching weeks anyway. I support the reasons why my academic teaching staff are striking however, it must be noted that the negative effect it will have on students – particularly those who are in their final year – is extremely unfair and will have a knock-on effect so close to deadline season and exams.
I plead with you to understand the reasons why staff members wish to strike but also remain sympathetic to the drastic effect it will have on students University-wide during such an important time of the academic year.
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