What struck me about this student strike

Grab a placard head for the picket line — there’s a strike at the University of Lincoln, apparently.

It’s an event from Socialist Students Lincoln, who are calling for students and lecturers to walk out of the university on Tuesday, and for a “boycott on every university outlet”.

According to the event’s Facebook page: “The university generates its profits not just out of your pockets, but also through its shops and cafés, so we’re also calling for a boycott on every university outlet.

“While students may not have the financial leverage of other workers, we can still use all tools available to us, and reveal to the university and to the government, which take taxes from it, that it will cost them to try and force unfair hikes on students.”

But, hold on a minute. What will this strike achieve, other than us losing out on some education that we’ve got to pay for?


Is the 'strike' on Tuesday well thought out? Photo: jasmined / University of Lincoln / The Linc

The university is about to be starved of resources. Arts and humanities funding isn’t going to be protected and much of it will be scaled back. Most of this university’s courses are arts and humanities based, so it’s a simple choice: up the fees or up the swanny.

This is why it will increase its tuition fees. Not because it wants to, but because it has to. It’ll have to recoup the lost funds if it wants to continue. As Professor Mary Stuart, the university’s vice-chancellor, has said — a rise in Lincoln’s fees is “inevitable”.

Why, then, would you want to financially punish the university for a situation it is being forced into?

What seems to have been forgotten is that the university is not an extension of the coalition government, but a victim of its cuts. It can’t do anything about the impending higher education apocalypse.

You’re on a wild goose chase if you’re running after the university yelling at them to keep fees low. It won’t happen because it can’t.

I’m broadly supportive of protests against tuition fee hikes and education cuts, not because I think there’s a realistic chance it’ll change the government’s mind, but because dissent is important.

However, let’s keep the tuition fees and education funding pressure at a national level, focused on the government and Karl McCartney. They’re the ones slicing and dicing in the abbetoir Treasury.

On a local level, we should lobby the university on how it spends its money, to ensure we actually get a service and education that’s worth paying for. Let’s start viewing ourselves as consumers of the university’s education services.

For example, if your lecturer or seminar tutor hasn’t turned up — why not? Who’s going to compensate you for that lost time?

Perhaps the resources in your department haven’t been updated for a while. Join together with others in the department – staff included – and put pressure on the university to prioritise your needs.

Striking at the university and boycotting its sarnie sellers to get lower fees is a waste of our time and our money.