Updated: Mar 9
The President of the Students’ Association and the Director of Wellbeing and Equality are to attend a UCU rally in Edinburgh today.
The “Rally for Education” is being organised by the National Union of Students Scotland (NUS Scotland) in partnership with the University and College Union (UCU). The goal of the rally is to protest “against an education system that fails to support students” and “fails to value the staff at our institutions.”
The rally is also taking place in solidarity with the UCU strikes that are currently causing disruption to teaching.
Lottie Doherty, Students’ Association President, said that she decided to attend the rally because of a motion passed unanimously at a meeting of the Student Representative Council (SRC) on 23 November 2021. This motion mandated the Students’ Association to stand in solidarity with striking University staff.
When asked about the strikes, Ms Doherty said:
“The aim of the strikes is not to disadvantage students, but necessarily, strikes do cause disruption and inconvenience. But staff working environments are student learning environments, and if staff don't have a good working environment, then students won't have a good learning environment.”
She also clarified that, as Association President, she was elected to represent all St Andrews students, which includes postgraduates, many of whom are also staff.
According to The Edinburgh Tab, UCU Scotland and NUS Scotland are keen to stress that they see that “staff working conditions are student learning conditions” and that “the deliberate understaffing and current business model of Scottish universities is damaging not just to staff and student living and working conditions, but to higher education itself.”
Despite the motion passing unanimously through the SRC, when asked whether she accepted that some students may be disappointed by her decision to attend the rally, Ms Doherty said:
“I do accept that some students may be disheartened by the fact that the Students' Association is supporting the striking staff, because I know that not all students support the strikes.
“Staff are an essential part of the ‘university experience’, and although strikes are currently causing disruption, the ‘university experience’ will be more badly damaged if low pay, casualisation, overworking and inequality continue.
“If any students have concerns or questions about the aims and impact of the strikes, then they can always get in touch with me via email. I'm always happy to have a conversation about any of these issues and will do my best to help.”
The rally begins at 12:30 GMT on Tuesday 22 February outside the Scottish Parliament Building, and can be followed live here.