Students 'should not be victims' of university strikes
Jian Feng

UK university staff have threatened to extend strikes that have impacted thousands of students.

Representatives from the University and College Union (UCU) said the action would continue following an unsuccessful meeting with employers on Monday and that they were considering asking their members to extend the strike mandate. 

The union announced more strike days and said it would continue its marking boycott, which has disrupted graduations and left many students without their final grades.

Students say they have paid a high price.

Ye Lyanne, studying law at the University of Leeds, gathered the signatures of more than 1,000 fellow students in an open letter to university authorities complaining about the impact of the industrial action.

"I hope this can end soon because students should not be the victims of this," he told CGTN.


The strike has disrupted many students' graduation ceremonies. /CFP.
The strike has disrupted many students' graduation ceremonies. /CFP.

The strike has disrupted many students' graduation ceremonies. /CFP.

Chinese student challenge

The marking boycott has been ongoing since April across 145 universities.

In the letter, Ye warned that Chinese students like him face challenges in securing jobs without access to degree certificates and said that their mental health has suffered as a result of the apparent waste of their time and costly fees.

Another student, Sandra Yang, told CGTN: "I already got a good job offer in China. However, without my final result and prove of graduation, I can't get this job."

"The University and my department are pushing responsibility to each other. One fourth of our classes have been cancelled since March when the strike started, while we paid the same amount of money," she added.

Students who do not speak English as a first language can face additional challenges getting help and understanding their options.

"A lot of my classmates who are not fluent in English have already been struggling a lot with the classes. They are lacking support while facing a strike like this," said Pavithra Sarma, an Indian student at Edinburgh University who also signed Ye's letter.



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No compensation

The strikes are a result of a dispute between the UCU, representing teachers and staff, and university employers about pay and conditions. It has led to a boycott on grading of work which has prevented students from earning credits towards their degrees.

The students also complain that they have not received any kind of compensation for the disruption they have experienced.

"I started to doubt whether it is the right choice to study abroad for my masters," said Sun Liying, a Chinese student studying Law and Social Justice at the University of Leeds. She worked for several years to save up in order to afford the international tuition fees which are typically twice as much as what British students pay.

In response to the students' letter, the University of Leeds said it was working to mitigate disruption and support individuals affected by the strikes. In additional to national talks, the university said it is working with local union representatives to address their concerns.

Students 'should not be victims' of university strikes

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