Lancaster University students’ union officers donned cow masks as they staged a protest at an open day over plans to extend the institution’s teaching day.
Union officers wanted to send the message that students are not ‘cash cows’ after it was revealed that increased recruitment at the university means teaching will continue beyond 6pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from the start of the new academic year.
The union’s President and Vice-Presidents fear the decision could have wide-ranging negative impacts on students - including disabled students, those with caring responsibilities, part-time jobs and involvement in clubs and societies – and say they do not believe student concerns are being listened to by the university.
After talks with university senior management failed to make progress in resolving the issue, union officers said they reluctantly took the decision to stage the protest.
In a statement issued following Saturday’s action, the officer team said: “The protest was a massive success on many levels.
“We demonstrated that as a students’ union we will stand up for the interests of students, we had lots of discussions with parents and prospective students to inform them about the change, and the support we have received from current and prospective students has been amazing.
“We would like to thank the student volunteers who came along in the rain to show their support, and did so with enthusiasm. We’d also like to thank the university staff members who approached us and thanked us for what we were doing, offering food to keep us going. Their support means a lot
to us, and we look forward to finding ways to collaborate in future.
“We took this action because we felt it was important to spread information and awareness so prospective students can make informed decisions about a university which suits them best.
“This is not the end and we will continue to fight this decision in the interests of student experience.”
A spokeswoman for Lancaster University said: “We are extending the teaching day to 7pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays to deliver lectures to our largest classes while we invest in new teaching facilities planned to be available in 18 – 20 months.
“Overall the proportion of teaching scheduled in 2018/19 to finish after 6pm is less than one per cent of the total number of hours scheduled for teaching across the whole year and a small number of classes will be affected.”