Amid various union strikes affecting the UK’s public transportation, from the London Underground to Southern railway, students have faced serious delays and have even been unable to attend classes, bringing down their grades.
Students who rely on the Southern train service are among the worst affected – this past week has seen walkouts by train drivers, with more being planned later this month, over a dispute on who should be responsible for opening and closing carriage doors.
Southern mainly serves Sussex, Surrey, and south London, and students who would normally take the train to college are worried about whether they will be able to complete their courses in time to take their A-Levels.
Southern Rail strikes leave college classes 'half empty' https://t.co/063ASvBUkU
— BBC Education (@bbceducation) January 13, 2017
Speaking to BBC Newsbeat, Becky, a 17-year-old student at a college in Chichester, said: “On strike days I have to leave half an hour early to get the train, otherwise I can’t get home. So I’ve lost four hours just from that one lesson alone.”
But even those who have managed to make classes might find it not worth their trouble, as low attendance is causing disruptions to the lesson plan.
“It has quite a big impact because obviously a lot of people in the class can’t get to the lesson, so the teacher doesn’t teach what they were planning to teach and we don’t cover the right amount of stuff,” added Becky.
— FE Week (@FEWeek) January 12, 2017
Callum Macleod, who lives 60 miles (96 kilometres) away from his college in Hastings, also pointed out: “If there’s no way for A-Level students to get into college on time for exams then it could potentially ruin their future career and set them back a year, which is unacceptable.”
He added that even on normal days, passengers have to deal with service disruptions.
Students have been finding it difficult to get to class since late last year, and many have vented their frustrations with the situation via social media:
#Southernrail is legit ruining my education. I haven't been able to get to college and I'm about to lose my place at college
— Shanmwah (@shanmwahh) December 15, 2016
If southern rail could stop striking that'd be great, don't know how I'm gonna get to college now…
— rosie (@rosieells) January 10, 2017
To help students get to school, Sussex Coast College is shelling out around £500 on replacement buses for every strike day, which could ultimately go up to £10,000 in total.
Justin Rollings, the college’s head of marketing and communications, told FE Week that the college will seek compensation from Southern for the expense: “We have had to put in some emergency measures which requires additional buses to and from Eastbourne, Bexhill, and Rye, to enable the students to get to college.
“Without these measures, these strikes would affect our students and their studies quite dramatically.”
According to Jim Sharpe, the college’s vice principal, the money being spent on the replacement buses has thrown the college’s entire budget off.
“The biggest concern for all of us is that the expenditure on the coaches will mean we can’t do things for students, and it’s ultimately going to impact on the quality of their education,” he told BBC Newsbeat.