UoA students discouraged from participating in Student Strike For Education
By Jake Roslin
Courtesy of NUS
AUSA urges students to ignore a call from the National Union of Students (NUS) to join a national student strike this Wednesday (2 March), although Student President Alisa Koester has said she will personally attend the central event, which is being held in London. The Strike For Education & Walk Out Teach In has been in preparation by NUS, to which AUSA is affiliated, for several months. ‘We’re calling for students to organise to get themselves and people from their unis and colleges to London on 2nd March 2022,’ the NUS website states. ‘We will take over central London, and build our own education for the day – it’s a protest, it’s a party, and it’s something we come together for.’ Koester told The Gaudie: ‘We are not calling on students to boycott their classes at UoA. A lot of teaching has already been missed or cancelled as a result of the pandemic. We are, however, backing the wider campaign that sparked the need for strikes and this action. To show solidarity and support with our colleagues in Student Unions across the UK, I will be down in London taking part in the strike on behalf of AUSA.’ According to NUS, 26 student’s unions have pledged to take part on Wednesday in an event which intends to ‘forge community, to educate each other and to experience the education we want to see in the world.’ Unions committed to attending are mainly from the south of England, with the furthest north being that of York University. However the UK-wide NUS have also called on students not able to travel to London to organise similar events locally on the same day. ‘We want to see local groups springing up to share your own knowledge,’ they state, ‘and to campaign on issues on your campuses.’ The Gaudie understands that the one day strike has not featured on AUSA’s social media. ‘Now is not the time to be encouraging students to miss classes, especially in Scotland, with crucial exams coming up for many,’ Koester continued. ‘It’s worth mentioning that this NUS UK campaign is set to reimagine the educational system in England, whilst we are in a different position here in Scotland.’ There have been regular calls for AUSA to disaffiliate from NUS, with alternative uses of the membership fee paid (£4,623.82 in 2020/21) often cited. Under AUSA’s constitution, an ‘In/Out’ referendum on continued affiliation must be held every four years. In the most recent referendum in 2021, as reported by The Gaudie, less than 2% of students voted. This meant, since turnout needed to constituionally be at least 10% for any change to be binding, AUSA remained an NUS member institution by default. Wednesday’s strike day coincides for many students with the tenth and final day of industrial action by UCU, the principal staff union of university staff. Academics, library staff and others at 63 UK universities are taking the action over pay and conditions, particularly large pension cuts. Aberdeen University staff are not participating on this occasion despite voting in favour of the action, as the required 50% turnout was not reached. The comments on the NUS strike from AUSA comes as Koester has announced her own candidacy for the position of NUS National President for 2022-24. Four students union leaders are standing for the salaried role, which will be elected in mid March. ‘The UK Government's continued attempts to commercialise education must be fought and resisted!’ she added.