A Bit Annoyed, Actually

A Note About The Lecturer Strikes

On average, I am scheduled to have 11 contact hours (lectures) per week, not including extra-curricular modules. There are 11 weeks in each semester. For my poor attempt at maths, if we multiply 11 by 22 (total number of weeks in the academic year), we get 242 hours. Then, 9,000 divided by 242 equals around £37 per lecture, most of which last only 50 minutes.

I have already been informed that so far, I will lose 2 hours of lectures due to upcoming strikes. That’s £74. I may then lose another 2 hours, which brings it to £148. Furthermore, there is a possibility that after my half term, there will be more strike days, including a planned five-day walkout from 12-16 March. If this does affect me, and all of my lecturers happen to be on strike, I and other students would have lost around £407 of lectures and valuable information.

Before I continue, I would like to stress my support for my university lecturers, and lecturers across the country: they are not to blame. They are doing what they are within their rights to do, which is defending their pensions. If the government succeeds in implementing this change, current and future lecturers could be left up to £10,000 worse off regarding pensions. This could mean that by the time they are ready to retire from their careers, they then might not have enough income to live comfortably. I don’t know about you but to me it does not sound like an attractive concept.

The government must understand that if there is no financial security, this will serve as a deterrent for potential lecturers. Why would you do a job if you are inadequately paid, or have no certainty of retiring with a decent pension? That’s right: you wouldn’t.

We have seen this happen already with the NHS – nobody should be surprised that we are suddenly in a “crisis”, because the number of doctors and nurses has fallen significantly. The Guardian has reported that since the referendum in June 2016, “around 10,000 EU nationals have quit the NHS” not only because of the uncertainty, but also because of overworking and underpayment. Similarly, in 2016-17, “just under 33,500 nurses” left the NHS. You can therefore see the correlation between working conditions and number of employees who quit. The same could happen for lecturers nationwide – lecturers who very much want to do their jobs, but who are reluctant to do so if it means making potentially destructive concessions to the government.

I am grateful for my education. Throughout my schooling, I have experienced some pretty low points in terms of government policy shafting people in the education sector, but there have always been a handful of truly dedicated teachers. Now, I find that my lecturers are the same, as some really do go all-out to help their students as best they can. In their position, I would be striking, too. In fact, I would like to take this chance to express my disappointment in the Cardiff University Students’ Union for denouncing these strikes and refusing to support our hardworking lecturers – I believe they cannot see the forest for the trees.

Students, I empathise if these strikes affect your education, I really do, but let’s not lose sight of the ones who are really behind the strikes – Theresa May and her cronies. All they are doing is making unnecessary cuts so they have more money in their own pockets. As you’ve probably now gathered, I’m a bit annoyed, actually.

Angharad

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A Stiff Drink

Last night, Mum, Dad and I had a drink in the kitchen – a glass of pink gin and tonic, no less – whilst dinner was cooking. I eagerly accepted this, even though I don’t tend to drink very often, and the glass felt cold and refreshing as I held it in my hand. Mum told me not to neck the gin too quickly, so I made sure to raise it to my parched lips sporadically, giving me the opportunity to savour it for as long as possible. Each time I swigged from the glass, I would look down into the bottom, where the ice cubes were floating, and whenever I did so I felt a twinge – a distinct stiffness – in the back of my neck.

I had been feeling this all day, and can attribute it largely to the fact that I spent most of it looking down at my laptop screen. Like many people, I probably do far too much of this, but on this particular occasion my body gave me a reminder that was both subtle and consistently noticeable. It had been there for several hours, and yet I never paid it much attention until I came away from the computer. If anything could tell me my priorities weren’t right, that was probably the most effective thing (I say, writing about it on a blog). When I received my current laptop in July 2016, I intended to use it primarily for reading and creative projects such as Third Time Enabled, but social media and video games had other ideas. I’ll have to try my best to consume both in moderation if I can – although those could turn out to be famous last words! I am helped at the moment by the fact that I have university plans to focus on. These have left me happier and more optimistic overall than I have been in some time, and I am filled with joy at the prospect of continuing my journey to September and beyond – such happiness is more than capable of making any stiff neck bearable. It’s the perfect cure.

Mason

The Pull, Part 3

Nearly two weeks after receiving my first offer, I am thrilled to reveal that today, a second university place was offered to me for Creative Writing. Upon seeing it in black and white on my Kindle screen in my bedroom, I shot down the stairs to relay the good news to Dad. As I did so, I was beaming from ear to ear, and Dad said that I looked like I’d just won the lottery. It certainly felt like that – the first offer felt unreal enough, but the latest one has escalated that feeling to truly indescribable levels. When I spoke to Mum on the phone to give her the news, I mentioned that now we have reached the proper decision-making part of the process, it feels as though we are on the home straight – and in response, she said it is as though I can almost touch it. University was closer than ever before a fortnight ago, but now I have one hand on the trophy. I hope that I will soon be grasping it with both.

As aforementioned, both of my options must now be placed under the microscope so that I can decide once and for all where I will be going. I am aware that it may be a trickier process than I expect, since both universities would be excellent destinations, but with the support of my family and friends, I am confident that I can reach the best possible outcome – and you will know by now that I can’t wait. Onwards!

Mason

The Pull, Part 2

Happy New Year to you all! Please allow me to start 2018 with a swift update on my university situation, as promised. I was most excited to wake up this morning having lunch with a couple of friends ahead of me – but imagine my elation and surprise when, at around 11:20 this morning, I spotted an email notification telling me to check my applications-in-progress for an update. Of course, I spent a split-second thinking of the worst-case scenario. What if it was a rejection? I found myself simultaneously getting excited and trying not to set myself up for a fall, but as it turned out I need not have worried.

At once, I hurriedly logged into my UCAS Track account, to be greeted with the news that one of my choices was offering me an unconditional place on my chosen Creative Writing course. It is difficult to describe the joy and relief I now feel with this outcome – I only know that it’s big, and that I can now begin looking to the future in earnest. I can’t accept or decline the offer until I’ve heard from my second choice, but it is a major boost and I couldn’t be happier. University seemed almost unattainable for me two years ago, but as of today it is closer than ever. Watch this space, people!

Mason

Christmas Eve Fever, Part 2

So, the second-best day of the year has come again, and I find myself seated comfortably in the front room just as I did last year, watching the lights on our Christmas tree enchant me as they always do. We have now introduced a string of warm golden lights alongside the regular multi-coloured lights, and whilst I was initially sceptical about how they would appear together, they do ultimately compliment each other very well. As they fade slowly in and out, somewhat hypnotically, they can have a magical effect on an otherwise dimly-lit room. They entice you, drawing your eyes towards their vibrant embrace, and for a moment you can lose yourself fully in the magic of Christmas.

That never changes, it’s the same year after year, but in this instance – as we head into 2018 – I feel like the lights are a bright appetiser for an exciting twelve months to come. As I write this, I am on the brink of finishing my university application and sending it away, and when I do it a period of intriguing uncertainty will begin as I await an offer. Of course, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be wanted, but the apparent strength of my personal statement has given me a lot to be optimistic about, so I intend to keep my head held high whilst I wait for news. The excitement has made Christmas that little bit better for me so far, and whatever happens I will keep you all updated on the situation from the start of this new year. Right now, however, I must live in the moment, and that means eating, drinking, being merry and watching Casino Royale with my nearest and dearest. Whatever you’re doing tomorrow, and for the rest of December, make it happy, stress-free and fun. I know I will. Merry Christmas, one and all!

Mason