UK Law students demand refund over lecturer strikes

The Law Society Gazette reports..

Law students at City University in London have demanded a refund for lost teaching time due to lecturer strikes, which they claim has caused ‘massive’ disruption to their education.

The aspiring lawyers on the Graduate Diploma in Law, the one-year conversion course, wrote to the university president, Sir Anthony Finkelstein, seeking a 15% refund on their £12,000 course fees.

The students, who are protesting outside the university today, criticised the president’s ‘patronising’ and ‘poorly-judged’ response.

In their letter, the students said that they understood the decision to strike in protest over pay and pension cuts and inequalities, and implored the university to resolve the issue in their lecturers’ favour, so they could resume normal teaching.

They claimed that the strike was causing them to miss out on teaching, leaving gaps in their legal knowledge, and said they have been unable to use campus facilities.

’Having to balance an already intense programme with application deadlines, our wellbeing and mental health, as well part time jobs for some students … these conditions have put a heavy strain on our education,’ they wrote.

Finkelstein replied telling the students that the university was working to mitigate any effects of the strike on their studies. He said that it would ‘seek to compensate’ them ‘in the event that we are ultimately unable to satisfy the learning outcomes associated with your course’.

But he said he was ‘disappointed that as future lawyers you have sought – uncritically to reflect one argument without balance and without, frankly understanding the issues’.

In considering the dispute, Finkelstein asked the students to consider ‘the question of affordability’ in acceding to the demands of the striking lecturers and consequent job losses, increased workloads and fees. ‘Money, as they say, does not grow on trees,’ he told them.

One student, who did not want to be named, told the Gazette: ‘One might have expected Sir Anthony to strike a more conciliatory tone, considering the massive disruption caused to teaching at his university by these strikes.’ They said the president’s ‘unnecessarily patronising’ response was ‘poorly judged’.

‘Sir Anthony’s terse response to this appropriate request for a refund is indicative of the way in which students are seen as mere school children, rather than paying customers.’