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“Give teachers the appreciation they deserve”: King’s students’ open letter to Shitij Kapur

King’s students write to President & Principal Shitij Kapur in solidarity with lecturers and staff over industrial action

Mr. Principal,

As you know, the strikes by King’s staff over pay, pensions and working conditions has cast a shadow of instability on our education. However, contrary to the various emails from your administration on this subject, we want to inform you that we are not victims of these strikes but rather fully-fledged actors.

Indeed, the students of King’s College London have come together to write this letter to you. We are also committed to the struggle to improve the working conditions of King’s staff. We are just as affected as our teachers by their low pay and pensions, excessive overtime and gender and racial inequalities.

Yes, we are directly affected. Firstly, by the quality of our teaching. Our teachers are tired. Their passion for education is the only thing that protects their smiles and good humour with us. We, the students, ask you to readjust the social conditions of the staff to match the quality of their teaching.

Secondly, the precarious nature of our teachers’ jobs has many of us second guessing our own career paths. Many of us wanted to pursue a career in academia and work in a university in turn. But, as the conditions of these noble professions worsen, we are encouraged to give up on those aspirations.

Thirdly, this dispute it involves our money in the form of student tuition fees. With the increase in the already-high international fees and rising living costs, we want to see this money used for justice and equity. However, to the contrary, instead of increasing staff pay in the context of high inflation, much of our fees is used to fund infrastructure. While we acknowledge the importance of infrastructure in the student experience, we consider supporting our teachers to be more pertinent. We ask you to manage the share of the money we give you justly between infrastructure and teachers.

Our fees are also indirectly used to perpetuate pay inequalities between men and women and ethnic minority groups. This is unacceptable in the 21st century and does not reflect the values of this great college. We ask you to eliminate the 14.8% gender pay gap and the 19.1% ethnic pay gap.

You – the university authorities – also have a lot to lose. Teachers are the backbone of an educational institution and their current, precarious position could lead to the slow collapse of the college you preside over. Answering the calls of lecturers would make you the first principal to act in the interest of his staff and elevate King’s reputation.

Mr. Principal, your job is based on the preservation of the staff. Without teachers, there is no university. They should, therefore, be the focus of your funding policies. You were a teacher yourself; you know the passion that drives you every morning but which gradually fades when appreciation for it diminishes.

Give teachers back the appreciation they deserve. Give King’s back the values of justice and equality that it defends with fervour and honour.

Mr. Principal, the future of King’s is in your hands.

Yours sincerely,

The students of King’s College London: Iris Salemi, Justine Kahn, Stephanie Reed, Sichun Yao, Petra Win Lemmers, Joaquin Magno, Deanna Lim, Jillian Eng, Noor Hatimy, Alexandre Dore?, Nadine Stewart, Catalina Fazio, Isabelle Guerrero

Learn more about lecturer strikes here and here.

King's students

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