Your rights as a student are governed by a combination of your individual contract with the UEA and the UEA’s regulations. UEA has a responsibility to provide appropriate teaching and learning support for your course with reasonable care and skill unless prevented by circumstances beyond UEA’s control.
When you signed up to the course you entered into an individual contract with UEA for the University to provide you with a service (your degree level education) in a particular way; the advertised number of contact hours, in person teaching vs online teaching, how the course will be delivered, module choice etc. In return you agreed to appropriately engage with your course and pay your tuition fees.
If UEA doesn’t deliver what it promised to deliver, for example the number of contact hours because of the strike, it is possible they have breached their contract with you.
However, there are three things to be considered:
Could UEA have put plans in place to mitigate the impact?
The truth is it’s too early to answer this.
By law, UEA is unable to force an employee to state in advance whether or not they intend to strike, so there is little the university could have done in advance to prevent lectures/seminars from being cancelled due to the industrial action UCU intend to take. Even if they knew in advance it would be difficult to find a lecturer willing to cross the picket line to provide cover.
This means it’s reasonable for UEA to be given proportionate time to assess the level of impact to students and then implement reasonable measures to mitigate this impact.
What is the tangible impact upon you?
Again, it’s too early to know the tangible academic impact upon you.
It’s only once UEA have had the proportionate time to implement measures to mitigate impact will it be known whether there has been a tangible negative impact.
The type of measures we’d be looking for UEA to implement is the making up of missed contact time, changes to assessments to not cover material that has no longer been taught for example.
Given this, it’s going to be the end of semester two before the true impact of the UCU strikes on students is known.
Be careful having expectations that cancelled teaching leads to financial compensation. During the COVID pandemic there was a call for students to receive compensation for changes to teaching. However, nationally, very little compensation was given simply due to lectures/teaching not taking place.
The team at UEA collect feedback from the student body through their "We're Listening" tool. Follow the link below to submit your ideas, suggestions for improvement and feedback.
Go to your lectures. Unless you are told otherwise by the University, you should attend your lectures as normal, particularly if a register of attendance is taken.
Talk to your reps. Your school/faculty reps are in a great position to hold your school to account for the measures they will take to mitigate the impact of the strikes on your education.
Keep a record of changes to your studies. Whilst we think it is too early to make a formal academic complaint, it is worth starting to gather evidence of the changes UEA make to your course. This could be important evidence for you to use should you decide to make a complaint.
Get support from the SU Welfare Service. If you’d like more advice on what the strikes might mean for you or are worried that you will be negatively impacted other than academically, contact our Welfare Team who’ll do their best to answer your questions and support you with your individual circumstances.
When the time is right and you do want to make a formal complaint, you can find the tools and guidance you need here.
Support the strike. You can find our more information as to how you can support the strike here.