The other week I was out at Warwick University recording yet another radio show, this time for the student run radio station RaW 1251AM. During my visit I discovered, to my horror, that some students were running their own lectures and being taught by fellow students.
For those of you who do not know, a number of lecturers, research staff, administrative and support staff, at various different universities, have been striking recently in a long-running dispute over pay. A direct consequence of lecturers striking is no doubt classes for students being cancelled. So what have some students at Warwick University decided to do? They have arranged for older students to deliver lectures on the subject that would have been delivered had strike action not taken place. Resourceful ? Preposterous ? Bizarre?
Much comment has been made both admiring the students ingenious approach to missing lectures and on the flip side, accusing the students of undermining the strikes and showing a lack of respect to university staff. However, what astounds me is that the students think that running their own lecturers is an acceptable solution to this issue.
If the university staff wish to strike, then so be it, that is not what my issue is with. The university itself has an obligation to these students. In basic and simple contract terms, the students are paying for a service (to be educated in a chosen subject by trained professionals) and this service is to be delivered by the university. If the university are not in a position to provide these educational services by trained professionals then they have an obligation to find an alternative solution. The university should be stammering to find an appropriate resolution to missed lectures, at the very least to meet their contractual obligations to the students.
I am surprised that more students are not challenging the university on this issue, especially as on average each lecture could be costing a student £135.
Statistic taken from The Guardian Education article “The £135 university lecture – but is it worth it?” 29 April 2011).