JOE SIMONS: Students Deserve Compensation For Strike Losses
EDITORS NOTE: Joe Simons is the Chairman of UKIP Students and the President of Kent UKIP Students.
Reece contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking if I wanted to write a piece about the ongoing lecturer strikes taking place on university campuses across the country. I’d like to preface that article with a short, fairly mundane, but important story:
A builder walks into a cafe and orders a full English breakfast. He sits down expecting the full works: crispy bacon, a golden egg, fried bread, black pudding, beans, mushrooms and maybe a grilled tomato or some hash browns too. When his food arrives, to his dismay, he finds that all he has in front of him is a slice of burned toast with some limp bacon and a few watery beans. Upon asking the waitress about why he hasn’t received what he paid for he is informed that the chef is on strike. Naturally, he asks for a refund and after the waitress obliges he leaves the cafe with nothing more to say on the matter.
Keep this story in mind, I’ll come back to it later…
It was funny that Reece contacted me when he did. I happened to be back home from university for the weekend, and most of the following week too. My decision to take this lengthier-than-usual break stemmed from the fact that there was little point in me being down in Canterbury thanks to the strikes that had practically eliminated my contact hours. While I tend not to buy into the continuous scaremongering over the cost of tuition fees (save for, perhaps, the concern over the fact that people like me with six contact hours a week are paying the same as those who have over 20) I thought it would be worthwhile to break down the costs of my degree and see if I’m getting my money’s worth during the strikes (spoiler: I’m not). I pay £9,250 a year for my degree and have thirty weeks of term per year, which means I pay around £308 per week. With my six hours of contact time per week, that means I pay about £51 per hour. While the strikes are on I’m currently paying somewhere between £154 and £308 per hour. This, in my mind, just isn’t acceptable.
Now, let’s be fair to the opposite side of the argument. There may well be perfectly valid reasons for these academics to strike. The Kent Labour society certainly saw it that way, joining the academics out on the picket line banging makeshift drums as if they were taking part in some sort of terribly discordant tribal ritual – like very noisy, Marxist pigs to the proverbial slaughter. In fact, despite my jesting, I can sympathise with these academics since I come from a family of teachers, so I’m familiar with the struggles teachers and lecturers face. At the end of the day, these academics are simply looking out for their own interests, and there’s no inherent problem with this – I wish them all the luck in the world. However, I also have to look out for my interests, as a student. The economic status of students is being affected here, with many like myself paying hundreds of our gorgeous Great British Pounds (other currencies are available) for tuition that we’re not getting.
The link between our tale about the builder in the cafe and the lecturer strikes should now be clear: in both situations, a service was being paid for but not received. And in the same way that our builder didn’t join the chef on strike, I won’t be in any rush to join the picket line on campus and partake in the infernal clattering that (so I hear) had been disturbing those in the library who wished to continue with their work. And just like the builder, students that have been affected by these strikes deserve some sort of compensation – financial or otherwise – to make up for the service that they have paid for (or will pay for thanks to the marvel of tuition fees) but have not received.