On Friday afternoon, the Vice-Chancellor Chris Day held an open-forum discussion about the strike action expected to begin on Thursday 22 February.
The session began at 3:30pm in the Herschel building and was well attended. As people entered, students were stood outside the lecture hall handing out UCU leaflets and other material supporting the strike. At the start of the discussion, the Vice-Chancellor made it clear that the session would be filmed and recorded for ReCap for all students who were unable to attend.
The Vice-Chancellor Chris Day began by expressing how difficult the current situation was for all involved. He outlined his view of the economic origins of the issue and explained the university’s position on the matter. This was chiefly that a decision had been made that universities could not afford the contributions the UCU were suggesting, and that they are not sure more money would solve the problem. Day then raised the issue of the impact of the strike dispute on students, saying: “If I’m sitting in your shoes, the questions are: what effect is this going to have on me?”
Many students expressed fervent concerns over how the strikes would personally affect their work and asked how the university planned to deal with this, with some calling specifically for financial compensation
He then opened the session up to questions from the audience, which lasted just over an hour. To begin with, one student stood up and spoke passionately against the University’s stance on the strikes, defending the lecturers’ position, which received applause from the audience. This was followed by a brief but quite heated exchange between the student and Day, before another audience member turned the discussion specifically onto the potential impact of the strikes on students.
Many students expressed fervent concerns over how the strikes would personally affect their work and asked how the university planned to deal with this, with some calling specifically for financial compensation. Consistently, the response was that it was difficult to plan, but that the University would endeavour to ensure the impact on students’ degree experience was minimal.
Day said: “I believe that common sense on both sides will prevail in the end.”