University staff are expected to strike on Thursday, 31 October, over pay. Not many people take into account the loss to students because of this. For those who enrolled on to university courses in 2012 and 2013 the coalition government trebled university fees to £9,000. On average, one hour of teaching costs approximately £45. If the strike goes ahead students can face up to £225 in losses. The sum is considerably higher for international students.
Students already pay an unfair amount of tuition fees compared to those who enrolled on to university courses prior to the rise in tuition fees. £9,000 is a substantial sum and many students feel they are being treated very unfairly. Due to the strikes the universities will be saving a great amount of money as they won't have to pay staff on the 31 October.
However, I feel the lecturers are not at fault but the blame lies with the Universities and College Employers Association. A 13% cut in wages since 2008 is unjustifiable and the Unions have been left with no choice other than to call a strike. University staff work extremely hard and are very committed to students and the work they do. Often teaching staff go out of their way for students because they want the best for them. However, they also need to provide for their families, like everybody else, which is difficult if their wages are continuously slashed.
The Universities and College Employers Association must come to the negotiating table if they want the best outcome for all the parties involved, including students. A 1% pay rise offer for university staff is simply a joke. It seems like the universities are making a mockery of the situation and it feels like they're not taking this matter very seriously. If the universities want the best out of their staff they must give them a fair and honest salary. A 13% deduction in wages is a punishment, why are university staff being punished when they should be rewarded?
Universities employ staff expecting 100% commitment but this must work both ways. At the end of the day, employees want to be rewarded for the effort they put in, this is simple business. When will the Universities and College Employers Association realise that "you get what you pay for". Universities are very concerned with league tables and unless university staff are treated fairly, the "Average Teaching Score" will fall dramatically.
For a student paying £9,000 in tuition fees, they should get value for their money and if universities are not motivating their staff, it means that everybody is losing out. Students will not get the good quality education that they are paying for, teachers are not paid fairly and will begin to "work to rule" and the universities credibility will plummet. This can have far greater consequences than many people think and it can potentially cause some university institutions to dissolve.
A small number of students will not mind the strikes and will think of it as an extra day off or more time for them to prepare for their Halloween parties. However, this will only be a small minority of students; the majority will feel they are being let down, not by the staff but by the universities. The Universities and College Employers Association must come to a solution with staff that will benefit everybody involved. This goes much further than the 31st of October, if universities want to see an improvement in teaching scores they will have to pay for it.