Wednesday Update: Transforming our University

And just like that, we’ve come to the end of our planned strike action. The past few weeks have seen many of us standing (or huddling) on the picket-lines; whatever the weather, we’ve held firm. And it’s clear that’s what’s needed, given the intransigence of our employers, who pushed through devastating cuts to USS last week, and are still refusing to budge on any of our Four Fights demands. There’ll be more news soon about what we do next; for now, though, it’s time to recover our strength, ready for the fight ahead.

Today, we joined forces with students for the NUS’s Student Strike for Education. To mark the extraordinary solidarity our students have shown over the past few weeks, we held a student-staff rally at noon, and reconvened for a student-staff assembly this afternoon, before heading down to the occupation to show our enormous support for all they’ve done. A reminder that you can add your name to our statement of solidarity here.

So to round off our strike updates, here are some thoughts from Julia, based on the speech she gave at today’s rally, on what we’re all fighting for, staff and students – a transformed, and transformational, education. You can read the full piece here, but below is a short extract:

I tell students that a strike itself can be a transformational education. I think they mostly roll their eyes at me; maybe it sounds like I’m putting an implausibly positive spin on the situation. But I really believe it. This is a moment to lift the lid on the university, and the society that produces it. What kinds of labour are valued and what kinds of labour are not? Why are certain topics and subjects taught here, and not others? How are powerful institutions governed, and whose interests do they serve? What is driving rising inequality in the UK, and what can be done to stop it? Just by diving into the issues at stake in this strike – going to teach outs, talking to those of us who are striking – I promise you will learn more about the world you live in than you might have learned in a missed lecture. 

So here’s to this time that we’ve spent together, today and on the pickets and in the future. Here’s to student-staff solidarity, and to a better future for higher education.