Normally, I quite like Boris Johnson but his remarks the other day about the lecturers’ industrial action made me pretty angry. He believes that universities are right to dock the salaries of those taking part in legally constituted industrial action.
Judging by his income, he doesn’t really have clue about the situation many working in the university system find themselves in. He earns nealry 75k a year for his work for the Telegraph alone. That’s before his MP’s salary and other money is taken into account. Being so comfortably off dulls the senses somewhat, because I’d like to see him support his lifestyle what I earn (which is about as much as a train driver, actually).
Industrial action is not something done lightly, especially for those in professional careers, and we know it has an effect on students. At the same time, however, so does the UCEA and they seem to be playing fast and loose with students’ futures. The irony of V-C’s who were awarded whacking great pay rises urging academics to pay restraint is not lost on me. Neither is the fact that the justification for such rises are to ensure that ‘we attract the best people into the job’. Does this mean that they don’t really care who fills their teaching posts, because as long as they fill seats that’s OK? That’s how it looks from inside the system right now.
If you are a student or parent, think that it might be your own child or grandchild who will suffer down the line. I shudder to think what the state of British Universities will be when my own daughter is old enough to enter the system. If things keep going as they are, I wouldn’t recommend her to.
Right now, I think that Boris Johnson is really not seeing the full picture. and until he does, perhaps he’d be better advised keeping his mouth shut. In any case, he shouldn’t expect the academic unions to cave in; there is now too much at stake to allow that to happen.