Sheffield Students express support for the UCU strikes despite fearing it will affect their grades

Students at the University of Sheffield have continued to express their support for the University and College Union (UCU) despite having their education disrupted by the strikes.

Picket at Elmfield on 14th of February

Around 70,000 members of staff are striking across 150 universities in the UK over the span of 18 days in February and March.
This includes the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. Overall the strikes are predicted to affect up to 2.5 million students around the country. Over the past week in Sheffield students have been facing a number of cancelled lectures and seminars with lecturers striking and some joining picket lines around both campuses.

Inconvenient

Ayman Shaikh, 18, a first year Electrical and Electronic Engineering student at the University of Sheffield said: “Strikes have been very inconvenient because I appear at a class and it’s not on. It’s not fair.
“It puts us at a massive disadvantage as a bunch of content hasn’t been covered in much detail.”

The UCU represents over 120,000 members and is striking for a number of reasons including demands for a pay rise, changes to pensions, and improvements to working conditions which aims to put an end to zero hours and temporary contracts, and to tackle excessive workloads which results in hours of unpaid work.

Picket at The University of Sheffield’s Diamond Building

Gariele Barteskaite, 23, a third year Computer Science student at The University of Sheffield said: “Students should not suffer because of the strikes, the university should do something about it”

Despite having their lectures cancelled, many students in Sheffield support the strikes, The Student Action Group (SAG) occupied The University of Sheffield’s Octagon Centre on the 9th of February in support of the UCU, resulting in the cancellation of a conference which was to be held there.

Future generations

Isabella Russell-Smith, 20, a second year Biomedical Science student said: “I understand it’s annoying because you pay, but it’s important they strike to make a difference for future generations.”

Picket
Universities in Sheffield were last affected by three days of UCU strike action in November of 2022 and the UCU say they will be reballoting its members to extend the unions mandate and allow staff to take further action throughout the rest of the academic year if their demands are not met.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Students understand that staff working conditions are their learning conditions and we are proud to have their support in these disputes. A system that relies on low pay and the rampant use of insecure contracts is a system which fails everyone.”

Better working conditions

Fiona Aviani-Bartram, 21, a first year Civil Engineering student at The University of Sheffield said: ‘I absolutely agree with the strikers because they deserve better working conditions and pay.”
“What’s more detrimental to students’ learning is the poor working conditions professors have as it creates poor teaching conditions.”

Picket at The University of Sheffield’s Hicks Building

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “The University of Sheffield remains open throughout the current national strike action and where we do experience some disruption, we are doing everything we can to support our students and to minimise the impact of industrial action. We will continue to keep our students and staff updated.”

Written by Amy Stowe

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