George protesting during his graduation
George protesting during his graduation

George Phillips, Cardiff University Socialist Students

Staff were protesting throughout Cardiff University’s graduation week – 17 to 21 July. It’s part of the University and College Union’s (UCU) long-running dispute over pay, pensions, working conditions and workload.

Throughout the week, UCU members handed out sashes and badges for graduating students to wear. Students were running towards the UCU stall to collect anything they could, and chat with lecturers.

I was one of those students and, wearing a pink UCU sash, I protested against the university whilst walking the graduation stage. And I joined the UCU on their stall every day for the rest of the week.

UCU members are currently taking part in a ‘marking and assessment boycott’ – part of their larger strike action. This involves refusing to mark students’ coursework and exams. Many students now have missing marks and unconfirmed degrees.


Staff want to be celebrating their students’ success, and not taking this action. But workers have been forced into this action due to malicious actions by Cardiff University and university bosses nationwide.

Staff have been hit with pay deductions of between 50-100% – a huge impact during the cost-of-living crisis – despite all other work being completed.

University leaders have the power to end this strike. But they are refusing to negotiate.

Many students support striking staff in their battle with the bosses. We are on the same side.

University bosses do not care about us, or our degrees. They only care about squeezing as much money as possible from staff and students, and their position on the league table.

Staff working conditions are students’ learning conditions. We will not receive the quality of teaching we deserve if staff are overworked and underpaid. Anger must be directed at the university bosses who are undertaking this vile campaign against staff and students.

Any university that claims it can’t afford the UCU’s reasonable demands should open its finance books to inspection by campus trade unions, as well as democratically elected worker and student representatives. If a university genuinely can’t afford to give its staff at least what the UCU wants, then the government should step in to make up the difference, with money given to universities under trade union oversight.

We must stand together – now and always – and fight for the future of higher education. Fighting for fair pay, conditions, workload and pensions, for the total abolishment of tuition fees, and a higher education system democratically run by workers, students and local communities.

  • Read more – ‘Marking and assessment boycott – students stand with staff’ at