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2nd March 2004
The AUT strike & the NUS

First up, I haven't really got anything against the AUT. If the lecturers feel they are not getting paid fairly, then they have every right to strike, and they can go ahead and do it.
However, I don't really understand how the NUS can justify standing 'shoulder to shoulder' with the AUT. It seems to me that they're just demonstrating opportunism at it's worst. They shouldn't really be supporting the AUT in striking as I'll explain shortly - they've just spotted an opportunity to get their opinions voiced without having to put too much effort in, and what's more, those opinions don't even match up with the majority of students I've spoken to who've actually thought about the matter.
Back to why they shouldn't be supporting the AUT in striking, given that they are supposed to have students' interest at heart. Firstly, in my experience, the standard of lecturing at my university is not particularly outstanding - I don't doubt that the lecturers are extremely clever and knowledgeable in their field, but in putting the information across, many of them struggle. Surely then, as far as the NUS is concerned, they don't deserve more money - at least not until they improve their ability to teach.
The second reason the NUS shouldn't support their strike is that the AUT have said that they are willing to take further action, including boycotting exam setting and marking. How on earth can the NUS think that striking in this manner would be in students' interest? As indicated above, the standard of teaching needs to improve before the NUS can start joining the AUT in demanding better pay for lecturers.
So either the NUS was just jumping on the bandwagon and taking advantage of the AUT's well organised strike to put it's views across without having to put much effort in, or it genuinely thinks the lecturers deserve more money, and that it would be right in taking such extreme action as not setting/marking exams - seriously affecting students in obatining their degrees. Whichever of these it is, I'm not overly impressed.

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