The case for the University to give compensation to its students as a result of the strikes.
There have been calls by many international students to receive compensation as a result of the strikes. While I thought many students would back this idea, surprisingly I have seen a lot of blowback saying it’s being ignorant of the UCU strikes and even going so far as calling supporters “scabs”. I think this is a complete misunderstanding; this is simply an issue between international students and the administration, as they have mistreated international students for years and this is the last straw. It has been a long time coming.
International students in particular have been seen as “cash cows” for the University for years. Rector Anwar even made it a point to try to fix this amongst University administration, but things haven’t gotten better, they have gotten worse. The rates for international students have gone up year after year and the quality of education has not improved. The return on investment has gotten worse and services have not improved.
The value of a degree in most fields is declining, yet our rates are going up.
While international student services are really helpful until you pay tuition, they dramatically decline after that. International students, many living alone for the first time, have to find housing and open bank accounts in a system completely different from the one they and their families are accustomed to. They look to these support services for help. While some staff are very helpful and are remarkably good, many won’t give you the time of day. The communication of how to get these services is abysmal.
There is this perception that international students are rich as they’re paying tens of thousands of pounds a year, but nothing can be further from the truth. While we do pay up to £21,000, many take this money out in crippling student loans. Why come then? If you’re not from the US then this might be surprising but £21,000 is actually fairly cheap for a top-notch education. My closest university at home is nearly £33,000 per year and the average Ivy League tuition is over £43,000. Add in a unique cultural experience and a historical setting and you can see why international students are drawn to Glasgow.
Now for where compensation fits into all of this. If you were treated as a cash cow, taking out massive debt, and now your university treats its employees in such a way that makes them strike, you would like to see some of your money back. I understand the issues of the strike and sympathise, but if the University has pushed them to the point where the staff feel they need to do that, the University must answer for its lack of delivery of the product.
We have paid for a product and the University is failing to deliver that.
If the strikes go through as planned students will miss 17% of the year. 17% of my tuition, for the full year I paid for, is £3,123. While much of the strikers’ lost wages go back to the SRC to serve students, I do not believe I will see an additional £3,123 of services to justify my lost education. On top of this, the University is dreadful for the communication of strikes and how it affects our courses. The reason for the University not offering compensation is the following: “We are confident that the strike will not prevent you from completing the academic year on time, and so we do not propose to offer compensation.” They fail to recognise the whole purpose of university is not simply the degree, but the education behind it.
Just because it doesn’t affect my graduation time does not mean I’m not losing something. Additionally, there have been leaked emails amongst student union presidents across the UK suggesting the universities are not being honest and many students actually will not graduate on time because of the strikes. We are not receiving the education we paid for and this isn’t the fault of the strikers, it’s the fault of the universities themselves and their failure to deliver.
While many say this distracts from the strikes, I would argue the opposite. It creates further disruption which is the aim of the strikes. It puts the blame squarely on the administration who have failed to give the education we were promised, the education we are in debt for. This is the real problem and is the reason we deserve compensation.