The Glasgow Guardian has conducted research into University of Glasgow student opinions regarding the ongoing UCU strike action.
The Glasgow Guardian spoke to University of Glasgow students on campus and set up an online survey to gain insight into student opinions regarding the ongoing UCU strike action.
The majority of students who took part in the survey supported the strikes, with 75% of students fully supporting the strike action. Despite overall expressions of support for the strike action in a survey conducted by The Glasgow Guardian, only a third of respondents said they wouldn’t cross the picket line be it to attend classes in-person or online. The survey also highlighted the two groups that students feel are primarily to blame for the strikes – University management and Universities UK – with 82% agreeing that the University is at fault to some extent and 87% agreeing that the issue is also caused by Universities UK. Support of the strikes, however, was not unanimous, although it was the majority opinion; 15% thought that it was the staff themselves who were the cause of the strikes and 11% said if they were a member of staff they wouldn’t strike.
Although the survey results demonstrate overwhelming levels of support among students, discontent was largely concentrated in third and fourth-year undergraduate students. In the survey, they were the group most likely to blame University staff for the strike action and least likely to strike if they were a member of staff. Since September 2018, when the current set of fourth-year students started, 57 days have been lost to strike action.
What was apparent throughout the first week of strikes was the large number of students on the picket line. Ralph Bennett-Richards, a second-year student, told The Glasgow Guardian: “It’s obviously disappointing that learning is disrupted, especially when we’ve had a whole year of disruption because of Covid, but it’s important to remember that staff’s working conditions, pay, and pensions are our learning conditions.”
This sentiment was echoed by Rosie Hampton, a Geography PhD student currently working as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA), who said: “I’ve seen strikes every year since 2018: as an undergrad up to now, and every year I’ve been in support of them. When I was an undergrad, I could see the impact it was having on my lecturers, and now that I’m also working in the uni alongside my PhD, working as a GTA, I’m really feeling the same impact of those cuts year on year, and worry over pensions.” Rosie added: “The imaginary student is often weaponised against us, with management saying we are ruining the student experience — but really that is the complete opposite of what we have seen in practice [ … with] students at picket lines supporting. I absolutely think that the fault of the disruption to learning and working conditions lies solely with university bosses. Everybody deserves the right to decent learning conditions, decent working conditions and it’s within your power to give us that.”
As well as being vocal on the picket line, students have made their frustrations known at the very top. Lisa, an international postgraduate student, sent an email to UofG principal Anton Muscattelli in support of the strike action, stating: “I have been nothing but disappointed in the past 6 months. I have paid £20,400 and for what? If I could take those £20,400 back, I would. I would give it to the teachers who met with me, who took the time to have a conversation, who gave me support despite being overworked, who answered my emails at 8 pm.” She is yet to receive a response.