An International Student's Perspective on Strikes

An international student reveals her perspective on strike action.

Elizabeth Meade
26th October 2021
UCU strikers make their position clear with plaques and cards. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
As a university student, I support our lecturers striking for better wages. Lecturers are frequently treated badly by the university with regards to contracts, payment and workloads. Yet every time a strike comes around, students complain about their coursework being disrupted and attention being given to issues they find insignificant. (Students complain about any and all social activism, but that is beyond this article's scope.) Lecturers work hard every day to help them get degrees, making the apathetic whining self-defeating.

As a US student, I have a slightly different complaint about strikes. Given the 80% attendance requirement put on all international students, I'm not in an equal position to UK students to participate. That means I can't miss more than around sixteen days of instruction. That includes sick days, unforeseen circumstances and supporting strikes.

I'm faced with two bad choices: crossing the picket line to fulfill attendance requirements or risking deportation. Even if the strikes don't last sixteen days, what if I were to get injured later in the year? With PEC forms being notoriously difficult to provide evidence for, I can't depend on University services to excuse my absence.

However, I don't blame striking lecturers. The attendance requirement is clearly a tool the university uses to prevent students from supporting strikes. While I won't put my visa status on the line for strikes, I still believe that UK students should not cross the picket line. Why be afraid to take a risk when you have nothing to lose?

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
(she/her) Head of Current Affairs (News, Campus Comment, Comment, Science). Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking. Wrote the first article for Puzzles. Probably the first Courier writer to have work featured in one of Justin Whang's videos.

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