Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Mark My Work?

Slowly, slowly students are getting to hear about the upcoming marking boycott, part of the Higher Education sector's industrial action. Put simply: academic salaries have not risen since 2008 once inflation is taken into account. At the same time, our pension terms have been reduced, pension contributions have increased, retirement age has been extended (and will be again), workload has rocketed and senior management salaries have gone off the scale.

Put simply, we're working harder, for longer, for less.

We've tried taking strike action. No response. My own university claimed that only 16-23 people actually went on strike, which is either a deliberate lie or a massive administrative cock-up. We're working to rule, or trying to. No response. The universities are determined to keep reducing our wages for the foreseeable future. It's not as if there's no money: the UK's universities are sitting on surpluses of well over a billion pounds. My own employer is putting up new buildings costing well over £20m without having to borrow a penny. It's recruiting yet more senior executives at 'competitive' salaries despite telling us that we should be grateful to have jobs at all.

So the next stage is a marking boycott. To be honest, it's the last thing I want to do. It impacts directly on students, especially those due to graduate. It's caused a howl of protest from some university students, particularly those infesting Twitter with the hashtag #markmywork, driven by the University of Hertfordshire Students' Union.

Now we academics largely idealise students. We respect them, we work hard for them, we assume that they have the best motives for their presence on campus. That's the only basis on which we can operate and we usually find that it's true. Yes, some individuals cheat, slack or are motivated by ideals other than the pure pursuit of intellectual development, but on the whole they're lovely people who deserve our respect. (It's also true that a small number of academics don't think like this, but it's a tiny minority).

#Markmywork is the dark side of the equation. The campaign reveals the consumerist, individualist mentality that stems from a marketised culture of education. It's misinformed, cynical and unreasonable.


Firstly: what else are we meant to do? Having been fully proletarianised, our only option is to withdraw our labour. If we worked in a factory, we'd stop the production line. Marking is the exact equivalent. We're faced with employers who see us as a workforce rather than as professionals with wider duties towards the community and culture. Yes it hurts. Yes, we'd rather not be doing it. Complain to your university: they can end this at a stroke. 

I'm also concerned at the constant drumbeat of credentialism here: the idea that time at university is 'wasted' if the grades aren't on the system entirely ignores the student's intellectual and moral development over those three years. Grades and certificates are far less important than these things, and they haven't stopped. Remember: we haven't stopped educating, just marking.

Do students really think that £9000 per year a) goes on our salaries and b) covers the cost of their education? If so, we've done a very poor job of communicating the bizarre and immoral structure of higher education funding in the UK. 


I find this all so very depressing. We do respect students. So much so that we want the people dedicated to transforming your lives paid appropriately. So many people are on part-time or casual contracts. Marking is often done for a very nominal fee utterly divorced from the real time spent on it. We study on average for an extra ten years, working the same kinds of low-paid jobs that students get just to qualify for an academic job. I'm 38. I was 34 before I got a regular salary, despite working in higher education since 2000 and carrying the debts of a BA, MA and PhD. You would not believe how many of the people marking your work are paid by the hour, struggling from one semester to the next and driving up and down the country trying to find a few hours here and there. So no, Helena, academics don't get paid enough. 

 As for Iestyn, below, he's entirely wrong. In the old days, students had ideals and opinions. They were allied to their teachers as we campaigned for fair wages for cleaners, against apartheid, for student grants rather than loans. We felt responsible for each other. Our pay is your responsibility. Without your support, we're sunk. Universities will drive down salaries and you'll get tired, under qualified teachers relying on textbooks and never doing any research, while the driven people will admit defeat and get jobs in useless highly-paid work like banking, or disappear round the world, because UK academic salaries are considerably lower than in the US, Australia, Canada and other English-speaking countries. Because, Jessica, we are not paid on a par with bankers. My brother-in-law is a junior back room employee of a bank. On his first day, he was given a golden hello cheque £15,000 higher than my annual salary. Even those overpaid Vice-Chancellors (average: £250,000, average pay rise 6%) look poor compared to bankers.





My own students' union does a very good job of advising and representing students in distress. Its executive team dress nicely and go to a lot of meetings with management. The idea of supporting academic staff, taking the long view or even disagreeing with the university executive is, sadly, an alien concept. When I was a young student activist, I looked forward to receiving the latest threatening legal letter from the university, to winding up the men in suits and reading the faux-outrage of the local Tory rag - and yet my lecturers would shake their heads sadly and tell us of their own militancy 'back in the day', after which students had become too timid and individualist to take action. That'll never happen to me, I thought. Sad old men. And now look at me… railing against the selfishness of a generation deliberately stripped of community feeling and political consciousness by an all-pervading neoliberal hegemony.

I still like and respect the vast majority of my students, and feel sorry for those enunciating the feelings expressed via #markmywork. But they make it difficult. To them I say this: you know we're not lazy. You see the effort we put in during lectures and tutorials, online and in person. My students see the energy and enthusiasm with which I teach. They know I'm always available. They don't see the multiple committees I sit on, the admin I do, the long hours I put in (I'm frequently here for 13 hours), the research I produce and the myriad other things we all do essentially for free. I say to the students promoting #markmywork that they, and my colleagues are the university: not the management that sees us as costs and you as customers, as figures on a spreadsheet. We support you, day in, day out. Try reciprocating, just for once. Phone your Vice-Chancellor. Complain through your SU. Come out and support us.

48 comments:

Arron Hook said...

I've got one question. Where's your picket line? Every day you've been on strike, I've had Lecture and I've never seen any of you.

Elliott said...

Totally agree. It's just a day off!

Sam said...

A day off unpaid, which is far from ideal for people who probably don't get a full-time and secure position until their early 30s. There was a strong presence for two hour strikes outside the MA building. You can also find strikers by the executive and staff car parks down by the Molineux football ground.

Sam said...

I strike. I don't work as a lecturer, nor am I unhappy with my pay: but I appreciate that there are people in my workplace who are unfairly treated when expensive buildings are being erected elsewhere. To say "it's just a day off" is ignorant, and if you knew anything about the toil of securing a full-time lecturing position at a University you'd probably agree.

Elliott said...

The technique by most of the lecturers tweeting today has been "you're too stupid to understand". Maybe you should re-think that and change it slightly because right now it's just annoying people. Lecturers need to come out in public and fight for this. So far, I haven't seen anything and I'm in university A LOT because I WORK HARD for my degree, only for the union to say "well you might not get it anyway".

The Plashing Vole said...

I've been out on the picket line! Recently they've been two hour strikes, so you might not have been in at those precise moments. We have a number of picket positions.

I certainly haven't seen anyone claiming students are 'too stupid to understand': if anything, the crude sentiments are coming from the #markmywork crowd. I certainly feel that unions and management haven't communicated enough with students  – my university management can be very dishonest. As to 'come out in public': that's what we've been doing. No result.

Arron Hook said...

That must be it. I don't doubt you've been. Though not having seen you has allowed my imagination to run wild with the image of you, Penny Welch and Steve Jacobs wearing donkey jackets and standing around an open brasier, standing 'tory scum' and 'running dogs of the capitalist system' at passing hung-over students.

Rob Spence said...

The comments with the markmywork hashtag are beyond depressing, revealing an incredible degree of solipsism. And ignorance - ask the one who says they're paying £9k to show the receipt. Even so, I won't be supporting this campaign. I'm not a member of the UCU (that's another story) and I feel this action plays into the hands of the bosses, and offers them an easy propaganda victory, as well as a foothold on the moral high ground, for the reason you mention: it directly affects the students. As you say, they should be our allies, and I'm afraid this action will alienate them.
When colleagues grumble about how to take action short of a strike, I always suggest that we stop using computers. We do everything that we are contracted to do, but without logging on. You need to give some feedback? Write it in longhand and give to the secretary to type up. You have to write a reference? Write it in longhand, and give to the secretary. You have to produce a report on the department's retention record? Write it in longhand.... It's only fair to alert the secretary first, but I'm certain that the whole institution would grind to a halt pretty soon, and yet no-one could say we weren't fulfilling our duties.

Janice Aitken said...

I just checked out the #markmywork tweets. It's great to see that the feed is now dominated by people explaining why we are taking action. So sad to see the ignorance in the comments from some students though. Some are even too daft to realise that their university absolutely has to make sure that they graduate - it will just be delayed slightly by the marking boycott. Embarassing how selfish and petulent the first tranche of tweets are but great to see that students think our action will have such a huge effect on them. Hopefully it can only help urge UCEA to negotiate.

Chris Jones said...

I'm a part-time student and I can understand why students are upset. We probably focus a little too much on our grades; from the moment an assignment is submitted the main subject of conversation (I say main... that is main after many other topics) is wondering about what grade it has achieved. Whether we admit it or not we want our lecturers validation. So I can understand the disappointment of not having your work marked in as timely a fashion as normal.

On the other hand I am also a public sector worker (you know one of the lazy ones that does a fifty hour week whilst having a real-term thirty-six% pay reduction over the past four years) so I can understand your position. People can't be asked to do more for less - it is not conducive to a good working environment; work suffers, products suffer and according to what you say your bosses believe that students are your products. Students suffer. Some one will always pipe up with 'you are lucky to have a job' or 'you should be grateful to have a job', and whilst I understand that there are many many people unemployed (I have been in that scenario myself,) our answer should be that our employers should be grateful to have such dedicated employees who care about / take pride in what they do and provide a damn good service. Without such people employers are nothing and doomed to failure. Sadly, though, I know they don't care and neither does the masses anymore - which is part of the problem. Working in the public sector for thirteen years I have seen the impact of industrial action reduced to almost nothing and I believe this is because people don't care. The world is a self-serving apathetic place partially evidenced by #markmywork. Without a popular wide reaching voice I'm not sure any action will be ultimately successful anymore.

Although I imagine this will affect the time it takes to get some results I wish you all the best - your knowledge, dedication and passion for the subject you teach cannot be questioned and should be rewarded by your employer accordingly.

Toby Ellis said...

Yyyyyeah, I pay an extortionate amount of money for 4 hours of lectures a week and receive little to no tutelage. This article is trying to humanise the problem, and that's important but at the same time it's not really relevant.

I'm not responsible for lecturers' salaries, but the strikes have negatively impacted my degree. I get that lecturers work hard, but that really doesn't mitigate the fact that their strike doesn't affect the people above them - it affects their students. If firefighters go on strike it's not the people negotiating their salaries that end up burning, and this is the same principle.

Whinging about the fact that students who have paid for a service are actually expecting you to provide the service for which they have paid doesn't make a difference. The sad fact is that lecturers aren't paid enough, but that doesn't give them a right to fuck over their students - no matter how 'proletarianised' they think they've been.

The thing that really stood out to me above everything else was the emboldened line: "Remember: we haven't stopped educating, just marking."

Oh, cool - so you've kept the ideological, nebulous concept of what you provide but without the actual function which allows me to progress with my career. Thanks for that. Glad you get to keep the warm fuzzy feeling of being an 'educator' but without any of the actual fulfilment of the responsibilities you're charged with and have agreed to provide.

Great.

The Plashing Vole said...

Toby:
firstly, you haven't paid £9000 for your education. You've borrowed it, and won't pay it back unless you reach a certain earnings limit. 48% of graduates aren't managing this, which just demonstrates what a ridiculous idea fees are. But that's another discussion.

Secondly: only 4 hours? Really? Seems very unlikely. My students are studying Arts subjects and have a lot more than that, even though we expect Arts students to self-manage their study. I teach English literature: there's no need to have students in class while they read!

Education is about more than class time too: your fees fund the research we do to generate new knowledge. They pay for the library and the horrendously expensive journal collections, for student support, IT, buildings etc.

Are you saying that we (and firefighters) should never withdraw our labour? That we should turn up to work however badly our employers treat us?

I really object to your use of the word 'service'. We aren't your servants. We're your colleagues in education. Without us, your education suffers. Without us receiving decent salaries, people will leave – or never join – the field.

Can you demonstrate that we've damaged your education? Have you stopped learning? Yes, we're going to jam the bureaucracy, but that's not the same thing. There's more to education than grades. Your last paragraph shows that you've entirely misunderstood the point of education. What a shame.

The Plashing Vole said...

And Toby, you seem to be the poster child for the current generation:
http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/apr/01/labour-tuition-fees-university-students-quality-education?CMP=twt_gu

Successive governments, following the recommendation of the 1997 Dearing Report, have encouraged students to see themselves as investors in receipt of a service and to seek "value for money and a good return from the investment". This has led to an instrumental sense that a degree is a financial transaction: students expect a guaranteed return in the post-graduation labour market. The focus of education is upon securing a certificate that can most readily be cashed-in.

Anonymous said...

Students directing ire at academic staff is misdirected. How about making your voices heard by the juggernaut of bureaucratic / executive positions within the university structure?

Cosford said...

"I'm also concerned at the constant drumbeat of credentialism here: the idea that time at university is 'wasted' if the grades aren't on the system entirely ignores the student's intellectual and moral development over those three years. Grades and certificates are far less important than these things, and they haven't stopped. Remember: we haven't stopped educating, just marking."

Whilst the sentiment of this is correct, you think a graduate employer is going to accept "Well I went to university for 3/4/5+ years, but I haven't gotten my degree yet."

The problem with the marking boycott, is that you're using us as a medium to get at universities. As I said in my tweet you've posted above (Iestyn Stears, @cosfordgaming), your pay is not our responsibility. At the University of Herts, we voted to support a policy of not backing industrial action of this sort, not because we disagree with your reasoning; in fact, the vast majority agreed that the reasoning was entirely valid, but using us a medium is unfair.
I think I speak for most students when I say this; "It's not our fault, why do you feel you have a right to impact our educations?".

Toby Ellis said...

Yeah, sorry but you calling me a liar really isn't going to help. I only have four hours of lectures a week, I had more in my first and second years but as a third year I'm sure you're aware 'self-study' is the name of the game. I also never claimed that £9000 went entirely into lecturers' pockets, which you implied in your second reply to me, because I'm not an idiot.

My point, which you seem to have entirely missed, is that education isn't an idealistic affair - it's a highly practical pastime which students engage in to go and get jobs. You don't rack up horrendous debt (and don't tell me I haven't paid for my education, you have no idea how I'm paying and the two jobs I have just to make sure I can afford accommodation and food aren't a laughing matter) and spend literal decades paying it back because you want to 'better yourself'. You do it so that you can earn more in the long-run. That's just how it is for the vast majority of people, and I also never said that was a good thing.

You're working off this preconception that all students expect and embrace the current system, and that is frankly ridiculous. I disagree with it on principle and agree with you that education *should* be about the quest for knowledge, but we don't live in the kind of world where we can afford for people to treat it as one. The functional reality of education is that it has become a process to get students out into the world, more qualified than their competitors so that they can get into the job market, and yeah - you're jamming the bureaucracy. You're stopping students being able to perform the functions they are trained for, simply by refusing to put your oar in and pull with the rest of your 'colleagues' as you so put it.

"There's more to education than grades" - not from the point of view of employers. And employability is the reason the vast majority of people get educated. There are some academics who do it for the sake of education in and of itself, and that's commendable, and I totally agree, you're not stopping students from learning. What you're doing is stopping them reaping the societal benefits of learning.

Oh, and I'm sorry - but the word 'service' doesn't imply that you're a servant. It implies that you're carrying out a function for which you've been paid. Which you're not.

Zoe said...

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/01/student-union-officers-representatives-not-activists?CMP=twt_gu

I disagree that challenging University management is an alien concept. Behind the scenes, we've done a lot of challenging over the year, and I will certainly continue to do so. Just because we may not be seen to the everyday bypasser to be doing so, does not mean we're not.

I think the Guardian's article sums this up very well. I do agree that sometimes(?) SUs appear to have lost their activist gusto, but part of me wonders how much of this is to do with the understanding of the roles we are elected into. When people ask me what I do, in simple terms I'll always say I represent students because that's what the job description now dictates. Whether that's right or wrong or not is a different matter.

Owen said...

Great article. What an awful hashtag!

Students complaining about the effect of the marking boycott seem to be atomised and individualistic in their thinking. Of course it does seriously inconvenience them in the short term, but they need to think about the wider picture.

Today’s students are the products of a neo-liberal, Thatcherite vision of education-as-commodity. This same vision of society has no only led to £9,000 tuition fees, but also an economy of low-wage, insecure labour and few jobs - the economy into which students will shortly be moving. They are getting into debt in order to move into an increasingly insecure economy - one in which workers have fewer rights, and lower pay. This is an economy in which unions, and actions aimed at protecting worker's rights, are demonised - hence the media outcry every time that public sector workers, binmen, or indeed lecturers go out on strike.

All of which is to say that anyone wanting a secure job in the future needs to challenge the logic that created this economy - needs to challenge neo-liberal capitalism. This may sound abstract but it is in fact very real. Supporting lecturers in their fight for a decent wage (not a pay rise but simply pay keeping up with inflation) is fighting against the logic of neo-liberalism. If these students go into unionised jobs then they are much more likely to have decent pay and conditions themselves. Supporting each other is the only way to make change. This is an old concept and it's a good one: it's called solidarity. They should try it sometime.

Jake said...

"If these students go into unionised jobs then they are much more likely to have decent pay and conditions themselves. Supporting each other is the only way to make change. This is an old concept and it's a good one: it's called solidarity. They should try it sometime."

Fat chance of that. I really do feel sorry for these kids, you know. They've had it hammered into them that this is just how things are and that the proper thing to do is reinforce your upper lip and Put Up With It.

And maybe they're right. Is there much to stop the University simply sacking lecturers willy-nilly and bringing in some recent graduate so desperate to get away from the dole that they'll take minimum wage or less? There's certainly little enough to stop an employer in most other sectors doing something similar; oh, you could sue them for unfair dismissal, but good luck getting hired anywhere else after that.

Owen said...

Jake, I totally agree about the students. They have been totally screwed. That's why lecturers supported the protests against the rise in tuition fees. But it's much bigger than that - it's about the whole state of the economy. And yes, very few (on anecdotal evidence admittedly) seem able to see outside of the ideological framework that has put them in this mess.

Re sacking lecturers - I think that would be an extremely controversial thing to do, and would presumably involve sacking the entire academic establishment, including very distinguished researchers. Also, I would hope that recent PhD graduates would show some solidarity and not scab. But perhaps I'm being too optimistic...

Antonia said...

Personally, a delay in marking affects my ability to go into my post-grad work as swiftly as I need to but that's hardly the point.

On a simplistic level, if pay isn't fair or consistent, then how will we provide quality education for future cohorts of university students? Where will the quality staff be? In a different industry, probably.

Surely the universities won't put final years chances of getting a degree at real risk? Even they aren't bastards that heartless and money - driven. The institutions will have to relent or hire external markers.

All of this would be over and done with if students actually understood and communicated this with the SU/uni but that's highly unlikely. Even explaining this to my final year housemates was difficult enough.

Anonymous said...

As someone finishing my PhD not a chance. Why would I want to be next?

Anonymous said...

Great article. I teach English Lit, too. Well, those pesky unions, which have brought all workers (including those about to graduate): Weekends, holidays, sick leave, equality rights,and so forth. Folks who are angry about having to wait for a grade, should bear in mind that employers do not give workers stuff out of kindess; they are hard fought for rights. This effects you, as students, who will be full time workers.
At the moment, many of your lecturers get paid far less than the living wage: zero hours, hourly pay. yet, they still ensure quality marking - giving their labour for free (for you!). However, if this trend continues, then more and more students will find quality goes down. Even if you are only interested in a grade (and I can assure you that employers want more than that), are you happy to see your work marked by those who do not have the experience to give you the right grade? be careful what you wish for. But thanks to all the many students who support us. All we want is fairness for all, and the best education we can offer.

Anonymous said...

If you are a third year you're not paying £9000 fees anyway

Rich Parry said...

I have every sympathy with the pay and pension conditions faced in the past few years by academic staff. And I fully support the right of academics to take industrial action. However, industrial action should be targeted at those who have the power to make the changes in working conditions that you are fighting for. This is not the student body. The marking boycott will primarily cause disruption for students, whereas the pay dispute is with the UCEA. I struggle to see how delaying vital information about the futures of graduates is going to convince the UCEA to shift their stance. I also fail to understand why students should come out and support the staff. The UCU has contacted my Students' Union on a number of occasions inviting us to join them on the picket lines. Taking industrial action that targets students' wellbeing, and then asking them to join you on the picket lines seems illogical at best. And this objection is not rooted in neo-liberal, individualistic consumerism. It is rooted in the principle of solidarity, that groups of people drawn together to campaign for a common cause do so with mutual support and respect.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how underpaid 'cleaners' are mentioned only once - and then only in retro-perspective.
I thought the strike is also about non-academic staff? What if academic staff will get a pay rise, and non-academic
won't? Will you continue with the strike? You make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

in this sense, please refrain from using the word 'solidarity' as the only staff you focus on in your article are lectures.

The Plashing Vole said...

Actually, anonymous, I've campaigned long and hard for the service department staff pay and conditions to be improved. They have been too!

Support staff are members of a different union, so you'll excuse me for concentrating on my own in this particular dispute.

Anonymous said...

You've written a nice list illustrating your reasons for this strike. How about admitting to the consequences if this strike will run over months? .

The Plashing Vole said...

'Admitting'? The consequences for us are months of not receiving any salary even while we continue to teach and research. Universities are free to pay other people to mark work - or they could simply end the 6 years of pay cuts.

I really hope that you always work for lovely employers who don't relentlessly cut your wages to inflate their reserves and executive salaries.

Anonymous said...

"The consequences for us are months of not receiving any salary even while we continue to teach and research."
So, you'll boycott marking/withhold marks but on the other side you'll " continue to teach and research"? How does this make even sense?

How about consequences for students who would love get onto a graduate scheme in september?

"I really hope that you always work for lovely employers who don't relentlessly cut your wages to inflate their reserves and executive salaries."
How come you assume I think cuts and unpaid work hours are legitim? Never said so.

Anonymous said...

"The consequences for us are months of not receiving any salary even while we continue to teach and research."
Either all or nothing. You may argue now that you'll continue to research because you care for students in that you would like to provide as much unique knowledge as possible. However, if'd you argue this, I would say 'How come then that you use the marking tactic although this may disrupt the plans of this year graduates in near future?'

The Plashing Vole said...

We don't provide knowledge. Education is about furnishing students with the intellectual means to acquire knowledge and turn it into wisdom.

It's not 'all or nothing': we've tried 'nothing' by withdrawing our labour for entire days. As a tactic, it didn't work. This is another tactic.

We don't deny that disruption will ensue. We hope the management will understand this and take steps to prevent this unfortunate event. Give your VC a call.

Anonymous said...

Funny how your proclaimed care about your graduating students dissolves as soon as it comes to their career plans. Not your business, is it?

Owen said...

Anonymous, the same arguments that you are making now get trotted out every time there is a strike on the trains, bus, binmen etc - people other than the employer are always affected. Indeed, that is part of the point of a strike, as this increases the pressure on the employer to come to the negotiating table. What other option do workers have than withdrawing their labour?

The UCEA could end the marking boycott before it even happens by simply agreeing to raise wages in line with inflation. All we are asking for is for something better than a wage cut.

Sarah said...

Ok, since no one is really saying it straight out (as far as I can see), how much exactly do you get paid as a university lecturer? Or how much roughly does a lecturer get paid?

The Plashing Vole said...

That's a complicated question Sarah. While the pay settlements (percentage rises or decreases) are agreed nationally, every university has different grades and starting points. A junior lecturer will probably start around £32,000, which is roughly £8,000 above the national average (or median, I can never remember which).

However: most lecturers who find a permanent job will have spent many years acquiring extra qualifications: MAs, PhDs, PGCEs, and they'll be loaded with extra debt from that, and of course have no savings, house deposits etc.

Add to that the hidden shame of the university sector: that a massive chunk of teaching is actually done by PhD students and people paid by the hour rather than on salaries. These people don't get paid for all the work they do, the research they produce or the long summers between contracts. Nor do they contribute to a pension.

And of course many of the biggest universities are in very expensive cities: £32k doesn't go far at all in London, Oxford, Cambridge etc, which is a problem we share with millions of people.

It's really people like this that I want to benefit from the industrial action. By most standards, academics are paid fairly well, although the long delay before starting a career makes a huge financial difference (I was 34 when I got a full-time job). But every year the salary gets worse, and the difference between it and the wages paid for other things people might be tempted to do widens. Why be a lecturer in finance, for instance, when you could earn hundreds of thousands in banking?

So there's a problem of casualisation, of attracting people to the profession, and of the increasing gap between what the management pays itself and what it wants to pay us. We work harder and harder: classes are bigger, marking piles are bigger, demands for research increase, yet we're expected to do more for less. That's a basic issue of fairness.

I know we earn more than many jobs. I don't think that means we should accept decreasing salaries: we should (and I do) want higher wages for everyone! This is the 5th biggest economy in the world. It's just that some people would rather pay hedge fund traders millions than spread it around more fairly.

Anonymous said...

Owen, there is a crucial difference between whether binmen refuse to collect my rubbish for weeks and lectures withholding marks/boycotting plans in near future - piles of rubbish are not equal to missing out on job opportunities due to a lack of marks.

Anonymous said...


"I know we earn more than many jobs" Bourgeoise.

The Plashing Vole said...

Observing that academic are bourgeois is hardly a revelation to academics or anybody else. Your point being?

Also: I read this week that bricklayers' wages in the South-East are now c.£100,000. Are they bourgeois too?

Anonymous said...

This is not very helpful, is it? We are dancing around the core with comments of this kind.
ps: Don't use big words if you don't know their meaning.

The Plashing Vole said...

Ha ha ha ha ha.

Anonymous said...

A lack of marks is not equal to rubbish being piled up if you live where mice/rats are likely to appear. A lack of marks is not equal to those trying to get to work when the buses are on strike. A lack of marks is not equal to the rights you will enjoy (and could lose if you stay self-centred) because of trade unions.Yes, it is meant to cause disruption. And guess what, the threat is working. UCEA may just offer a pay increase next week and then UCU members will be balloted over Easter (possibly).

Anonymous said...

Calling lecturers bourgeois only reinforces the neo-liberal perception of higher education.Lectures work hard, too. And yes, they may earn more than in other jobs however, it does not make them bourgeois - actually, with this strike lecturers try to fight capitalism in that they challenge wardens who sit on a thick check while others don't get a slice from the cake. Is this fair? I'm a student in my third year, and yes, as you are I am too dependent on my mark and have plans already. And yes, as angry as you are so was I - but you have to turn your anger against those who have forced lecturers to go on a strike in the first place - in other words, go 'backstage'.

Owen said...

The starting salary for Lecturers is £30,000, or just over. So it's a decent wage, but not anything like some of the figures I've heard people suggest we get....recently a taxi driver told my wife that he thought Lecturers were on £140,000 a year. After she had finished laughing and told him the real amount, it turned out that he earned more than I do.

In any case, the reason that lecturers still do earn a decent (if unspectacular) wage is because they are unionised and are prepared to strike. Decent wages and conditions don't just happen - they have to be fought for.

Anonymous said...

Your one percent pay rise sucks yes I agree however this was in no way the fault of the students. Students who work damn hard to get their assignments in on time.

You say we don't look at the bigger picture but from the bigger picture to me this means final year students lose out on their job offers because they didn't get their grades in on time. You talk about poor working conditions and low pay but then could be forcing people who have worked hard for a degree into unemployment or low paying jobs with poor working conditions! Then what happens if you get what you want and get your pay rise? The money's got to come from somewhere and the government may just use this as an excuse to allow universities to up their fees. So from where I'm standing the bigger picture is students are the ones who suffer all round.

As for people saying the 9 grand is borrowed. Yes a fair amount of students borrow £27 grand for three years of study but what about international students who pay even more than that and don't get government loans?

Also your pay rise may not be much at all but there are many many people who have worked for years with no pay rise and are on minimum wage. Your pay rise may not be much but at least you're earning an amount which lets you live life more comfortably than these people. Although, yes I understand the concern over people like cleaners who are a lot worse off than lectures.

You have the right to strike and protest but I just feel it's grossly unfair to take it out on students because now this just simply makes another group of people suffer. Surely there just has to be another way to get your point across.

Car Bonio said...

You have shared a great information about Industrial Electrical Contractors and Energy Reduction Services.Which are very

informative for us. Thanks

Car Bonio said...


You have shared a great information about Domestic Electrical Installation and Industrial Electrical Contractors.Which are very informative for us. Thanks