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University lecturer strikes

(29 Posts)
Griselda Thu 15-Mar-18 11:38:11

Without knowing much about the details I am generally sympathetic. As a pensioner myself I would not want to see anyone having their pension prospects reduced.
Having said that, it happens that I have three grand daughters in their first year of university education this year.
They have had no lectures for three weeks. One of them is/was only getting eight hours of contact time any way.
They are conscientious girls who are becoming rather despondent and wondering why they are running up a large debt and not getting anything for it.
Has anyone got any encouraging words ? I feel so sorry for them - my university education was free.

Anniebach Thu 15-Mar-18 11:44:43

My elder granddaughter is in her third year, no lectures for several weeks, younger daughter in her first year, has had two lectures in the last three weeks.

Goodbyetoallthat Thu 15-Mar-18 12:02:50

I'm a university lecturer & most of us really care about the students & hate the thought of striking.
However the disparity in pay levels between those of us who actually teach the students & management has become frightening (most of those on a high grade will rarely come across an actual student)
I suspect that any topics that have not been taught will be covered later on or not form part of the exam or coursework.
I agree that fees are too high & 8 hours contact time per week is very low.
I believe the government are going to look at this (& rightly so).
I do hope that your granddaughters enjoy their university experience & make use of all the resources available to them..

Grandma70s Thu 15-Mar-18 12:06:37

It depends what subjects they’re doing, and where. If it’s an arts subject, they should find out the syllabus and read up on it by themselves. That’s what we were expected to do anyway, admittedly a long time ago, but it wasn’t very different for my sons.

If it’s a science that requires lab work, that’s probably different.

Nonnie Thu 15-Mar-18 12:17:31

So much sympathy for the students but not so sure about the lecturers. Yes, I'm sorry that their pensions may not be as much as they expected but wonder why they expect to be treated differently to those in the private sector? I assume the contributions they have already paid in will not be affected, as such things cannot be changed retrospectively. The changes will affect what happens to the money they pay in from now on. For some years the pensions funds have not performed as well as in the past and therefore the benefits cannot be sustained at previous rates unless someone pays a lot more. Who should that someone be? I always worked in the private sector and this happened to me. Any day now I will get a letter telling me how my pension will change and it will show one rate for pre-2005 and another rate for post-2005 when I paid in more and get less benefits.

jollyg Thu 15-Mar-18 12:17:44

The lecturers, on good salaries are giving a bad example to the next generation.

I was lucky in that I had a grant and my son likewise, but when you get a; university' education and end up with a wad of debt, beware.

Both our kids did paper rounds/ Saturday jobs, gave them a work ethic.

The job market has changed totally, sorry I was not born with a silver spoon, more my brothers cast offs.

Seem to remember TBs mantra EDUCATION ad finitum. What a snake oil salesman

Goodbyetoallthat Thu 15-Mar-18 14:46:06

I hope that this instigates a much wider debate on University education generally.
It will be very interesting if tables showing graduate employment rates & salaries have to published.
Personally unless a student intends to study medicine or an allied healthcare subject I would suggest that they consider very carefully whether a University degree is good value for money.

Nonnie Thu 15-Mar-18 15:31:27

I don't think it is simply a matter of the subject you study, I think that the university you go to is all important. I was certainly well aware of the difference between different universities when I was recruiting. A 2.1 from a Russell Group meant a lot more than a 2.1 from some others!

Grandma70s Thu 15-Mar-18 15:45:34

I don’t know how often I have to point out that apart from vocational degrees like medicine a university degree is about education, not training for a job. A good degree from a good university (crucial,q as Nonnie says) can mean there is an organised and capable mind, but whether it’s in Classics or geography is often irrelevant.

sodapop Thu 15-Mar-18 15:50:33

Why are the lecturers targeting the students. There must be other ways they can get their point across which does not mean students are deprived of lectures with no notice. They are striking for another 14 days I understand which will affect exams.

Goodbyetoallthat Thu 15-Mar-18 15:52:34

That's a good point nonnie. In my experience (& of course it is only my experience) of teaching in a mid table university & with 5 children, who have all been to university (from Oxbridge to a post 1992 university) the differentials have been eroded.
Oxbridge students are still in high demand, however arts & humanities students, even from RG universities, often struggle to find employment commensurate with their degree.

Eloethan Thu 15-Mar-18 16:20:03

To all intents and purposes universities are now businesses and those businesses are paying out huge amounts to senior administrators and, notably, vice chancellors. The vice chancellor of Bath earns £468,000 per annum. If what I have read is correct, lecturers earn around £32,000 per annum on average.

On the website, it is stated:

"If you wanted to become a lecturer fifty years ago, a post graduate qualification was not necessary, but the career has become so professionalized over the past few decades that now it is nearly impossible to get a permanent lectureship without having completed a PhD. The qualifications that you will need are a good bachelor's degree (2.1 or above), possibly a masters, and for almost all disciplines a PhD in the relevant field. You do not need a separate teaching qualification, although you may be offered the chance to do one while studying for your PhD. Alternatively this may be required during your first year in the lectureship job.

Teaching Experience needed

"There are two main aspects to being a lecturer: lecturing (i.e. teaching) and research (with administration running a close, often undesirable, third). Different institutions prioritise research and teaching slightly differently and you need to find out which aspect is most important for the particular job you are interested in. As a general rule for the UK, Russell Group universities prioritise research whereas post-1992 institutions place more emphasis on teaching, but this is only a generalisation."

In my opinion, that's a pretty big ask for not particularly good pay. A senior lecturer from Goldsmiths wrote an opinion piece in the Guardian in which she stated that the changes to pensions can mean a loss of as much as £10,000 p.a.

Griselda Thu 15-Mar-18 17:32:27

As I said in my original post, I am sympathetic to the university professors. I am just upset that my grand daughters are being so badly affected by their strike. As I said in my original post, one of them only has eight hours of contact times, which is incidentally taught by an MA student when he/she is there.
I deplore the way higher education has been marketised, but this was not the choice of the students and who are losing out very badly.

M0nica Thu 15-Mar-18 17:37:54

DS is a university lecturer. He says that his pension is likely to be halved if this scheme goes through.

The excerpt Eloethan quoted from the describes only half the parameters a lecturer has to meet to get a permanent job in academia.

DS lectures in a humanities subject. To get an academic job he had to show a background in solid research with a good list of publications to his name. Not easy when prior to your post application you have been working full time on a PhD or working full time outside academia He had to show that he had 'badges of merit' that is that he was active in his professional world, being on the committees of learned societies, active in community groups, or had won awards for aspects of his work.

Even then most lecturers will spend at least the first 10 years of their careers on short term one or two year contracts, with the constant fear of what happens when a contract ends. DS, despite working in academia or academia related work from the time he got his PhD at 25, did not get his first permanent post until he was 40.

It makes settling down in life, buying a house, having children very difficult because, like hospital doctors you frequently have to be prepared to move from one side of the country to other in pursuit of work. DS had contracts in Yorkshire, County Durham, Oxfordshire and Cheshire before finally getting a permanent post up north.

Now he is permanent, he cannot rest on his laurels, for the research assessments, he has to show he is carrying out research of local, national and international importance, he is ranked by the prestige of the conferences he is invited to speak at and by the value of the research grants he brings in. Meanwhile he has to keep up his publication record and make sure he keeps collecting those 'badges of merit'. Oh, yes, he is also married with two small children and both his wife, children and wider family would like to see more of him, would like more weekends when he was home and not driving off to give talks, take students on field trips or run community projects.

Our university lecturers work extremely hard their salaries (except for the top administrators) are modest compared with comparable professions, a decent pension is the least they deserve.

Grandma70s Thu 15-Mar-18 17:45:13

The website cited by Eloethan is quite wrong about what was required to become a university lecturer 50 years ago. I certainly needed a postgraduate degree and a top first degree. Perhaps the article is talking about lecturers at what were then called polytechnics.

I think pay may have been higher then. It certainly seemed fine to me. Most people go into university teaching/research because they love their subject rather than for the money.

mcem Thu 15-Mar-18 17:55:21

This is far from the first time that people have suddenly been confronted with pension prospects far lower than expected - remember Gordon Brown's raid on pension pots? WASPI women have been appallingly treated.
That said, I do have sympathy with lecturers ( and even more for the students/customers who clearly are not getting value for money!)

M0nica Thu 15-Mar-18 17:58:31

Grandma70s Most people go into university teaching/research because they love their subject rather than for the money.

I quite agree, but that is not a good reason for paying them poorly and halving their pensions.

Goodbyetoallthat Thu 15-Mar-18 18:07:39

Yes but grandma70s people have to live too! I love my job but many colleagues are on zero hours contracts & the pension changes will have a huge effect.
I agree with M0nica that their is now considerable pressure on academic staff.
I have a professional qualification & am seriously considering returning to the private sector.

Eloethan Thu 15-Mar-18 18:09:53

I imagine lots of professional people - like doctors, nurses, teachers, lecturers, probational officers, etc. etc. - don't see money as the priority. But everyone has to live and if you have worked hard to gain qualifications to do what is usually a very demanding and responsible job then it seems reasonable to me that the pay should at least partly reflect that. I think at the moment most of these professions are under extreme pressure and it really isn't fair.

I do have a great deal of sympathy for the students and I agree that the marketisation of higher education has not really benefited anybody except very senior administrative officers.

Grandma70s Thu 15-Mar-18 18:10:17

Agreed, M0nica.

mcem: Whether or not the students get ‘value for money’, whatever that means, is largely up to them.

Goodbyetoallthat Thu 15-Mar-18 18:34:56

The proliferation of Universities & courses nowadays can make it difficult for students to select the right course at the right institution. I think it is right that universities should be made accountable for any statements that they make regarding future employability/ salaries for their graduates.

M0nica Thu 15-Mar-18 21:14:50

I would agree, but it is not that easy. Some career paths are much less well paid than others- being a university lecturer, for example. Others inherently do not offer secure career paths - drama, fine art.

Then there is what the student puts into it. If someone chooses to study Business economics for example because employability and pay are good, but their heart is not really in it because what they really wanted to study was theology, they are unlikely to do well. They would be better off with a good class degree in theology than a mediocre degree in business economics.

earleen1998veac Tue 19-Feb-19 07:58:11

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Humbertbear Tue 19-Feb-19 08:52:54

I have a lot of sympathy with university lecturers but they are far better off pension - wise than those who work in universities on non- academic contracts (and I was one of them).

MawBroon Tue 19-Feb-19 08:56:47

You have to larf don’t you at spam, especially when it is in fractured English - and advertising something like essay writing services grin
Reported though.