Why I support my lecturers on strike today

The assault on higher education is targeting academics and support staff as much as students

We live in the "Age of the Intern", when bright young students and graduates are expected to enter the world of work and an economy for free, or for very little money; when we no longer anticipate a minimum wage or living standard, and accept the status quo, because we fear the future without it; when this system of inequality and exclusivity has become the norm.

I support my lecturers, my seminar leaders, and all the university staff who are striking today because they are taking a stand against something that is creeping into all areas in our economy and our culture. University staff have suffered one of the biggest cuts to their wages since World War II. According to the University and Colleges Union (UCU), since 2008, wages of staff at universities have diminished by 13 per cent in real terms.

We can try to blame the 2008 recession, poor markets, or culture, but in a realm where university leaders and vice chancellors remain on six-figure salaries, where top universities are encouraging junior academics to work for free, the falling wages of most university staff cannot be justified. According to Unison, over 4,000 members of staff in universities are paid below the living wage.

This sector of our public services is the front line of ideas; it cures illness, solves conflict and invents the future. By cutting wages within it, we restrict who is able and who wants to join it. We cut out ideas that could save or improve lives.

British higher education establishments and the system are an important part of our society. Academia and ground-breaking thought have had a stronghold here for hundreds of years. But if universities and colleges relinquish competitive salaries, we are in jeopardy of losing our enthusiastic and pioneering staff to the private sector, or to institutions abroad that are willing to pay fair wages.

The road to academia is always long and expensive, as many of us who are at its undergraduate junction know. It should thus not also be fruitless at the end. In the UK, current academic staff should not have to struggle to feed their families. Prospective researchers and lecturers should not cast aside the career because it cannot promise security.

The foundations of our academic superstructure - its staff - are under pressure. Without them, the whole system as we currently know it will crumble. None of my lecturers wanted the cost of my education to triple, but I want my fees to go to the people who are teaching me how to think, and not to those who seem intent on discouraging it.

Staff and students from the University of Leeds will be marching from the campus at 11.30 this morning.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: SThree are a global F...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Guru Careers: Marketing Compliance Assistant

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Compliance Assistant to join a ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are a recent psychology graduate ...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders