CUSU rejects motion to support students seeking refunds after strike action

Image credit: Will Tilbrook

CUSU rejected a motion calling for their support in students seeking refunds for missed teaching hours during strike action, which has drawn mixed responses from across the university’s student body.

The motion was proposed by Christ’s JCR Vice-President Oliver Jones, stating his belief that students are entitled to compensation, and giving the example of King’s College London, which has offered students refunds for missed teaching hours. The motion was rejected with a significant majority, with only six votes against and two abstentions. Cambridge University Conservative Association have condemned the decision, stating that “Students who have had their education disrupted are rightfully entitled to commensurate compensation reflecting this interruption”.

However, groups supporting CUSU’s decision have cited concerns that asking for refunds would endorse the marketisation of higher education. The activist group Cambridge Defend Education have defended CUSU’s decision, giving the following statement: “CUSU council made the right call on fee refunds, voting against short term thinking that would do nothing to lessen the educational impact of the strikes while seriously undermining efforts to tackle marketisation. That process, by which the university comes to see itself as a business and its students as consumers who pay for a service, is the reason why pensions were cut and why we pay tuition fees in the first place. Instead of playing into that, we’re happy that students and CUSU will be keeping up the fight against it”.

CUSU have not released a full statement publicly, although Daisy Eyre, CUSU President, and Lola Olufemi, Women’s Officer, spoke out against students seeking refunds during the meeting. Martha Krish, the Education Officer, also stated that refunds would fail to address the fundamental issue of marketisation in higher education.

Those asking for compensation have asked for several hundred pounds per student, reflecting an amount in tuition fees proportional to the number of teaching hours missed. This debate follows previous concerns about the University’s use of staff’s docked pay, which it stated in April would be allocated to student hardship funds.

 

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