AUT students concerned they won't get a graduation ceremony due to staff strikes

AUT students concerned they won't get a graduation ceremony due to staff strikes
Photo credit: Newshub.

AUT students fear they won't be able to graduate in December as planned with staff going on strike and withholding their grades.

No results have been released since October 19, causing more stress for students during the exam period and for some, their final exams of their degrees. 

Tertiary Education Union members rejected the latest pay offer from AUT, which the union said was the living wage increase but to be paid across three years. They have now extended the strike for another two weeks to November 16.

The union's request was to be paid the living wage of $20.55 from January 1, 2019.

Among those affected by the strike are international students, who are dependent on their final results to get their new visas granted.

Yinyee Low, a television and screen production major is one of those students. She says while staff members deserve a pay rise, she is worried about the delay in applying for her visa.

"I need both my final results and graduation certificate for it and that's also quite worrying, as I've already got a full-time job that is reliant on my new visa as well."

It's not just the visa that is the concern - it's also the amount of money people have spent on travel and accommodation to see their children graduate.

"As an international student whose family has spent quite a bit to fly over to see me graduate, it's quite worrying that I might not be able to," says Ms Low.

Journalism major Rochelle Street says she hadn't even considered the fact that she might not graduate when she expected to.

"My parents have already paid for flights and accommodation for graduation, so if it's postponed ya girl won't have any family with her at graduation, because who can afford to rebook that much stuff for a trip to Auckland?"

AUT's Sir Paul Reeves building.
AUT's Sir Paul Reeves building. Photo credit: Newshub.

Olivia Fairhurst, also journalism major, has the same problem - with her dad flying in from England for the special occasion.

"I know other people with parents overseas who have already organised time off work and booked flights. With only a certain amount of holiday days, it could be impossible to reschedule so that's quite upsetting that people may not be able to have family members at grad. I feel as though they have every right to strike for fair pay, but should consider timing and the wider implications of it."

Lydia Burgham, a communications major, empathises with the staff and their right to strike, but pointed out that the group most affected by this is the students - and they have no control over how much staff gets paid.

This is not the first time staff has gone on strike during end-of-year exams. In 2015 staff went on strike for one week and students were unable to even apply to graduate until after the strike was over.

AUT told NZME it will not affect December graduation, but if students' results are not back soon, this remains to be seen.