University Marking Boycott Could See Thousands Of Students Miss Out On Graduation | TOTUM
Ben HaywardMay 12th

Thousands of students face missing out on graduating this year as university staff threaten to boycott the marking of exam papers.

Staff at 44 of the UK’s most prestigious universities are now set to strike before the end of the academic term as a row over pay, working conditions and pension packages continues. 

The strike action, organised by the University and College Union (UCU), is due to begin on May 23rd and comes on top of 15 days of strike action taken by teaching staff this year.


UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “University staff have been clear that many simply cannot contemplate staying in higher education while wages fall, workloads rise, and nothing is done to address the rampant use of insecure contracts or shocking equality failings.”

While many staff have said they are reluctant to impact on students, the feeling is that after years of protests, there are now few options remaining in order for demands to be taken seriously.

The UCU explained: “The marking boycott is a last resort for staff who feel like they have no other choice. The fault lies solely with university bosses who are choosing to let students suffer by refusing to deal with the issues that blight higher education.”

The UCU has given universities two weeks to respond before the boycott begins, asking for employers to ‘avoid the first UK-wide boycott of this kind in over a decade by finally making serious offers on the issues of pensions, pay and working conditions’.


Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Lucia Botfield, a third-year history student at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘I’m doing a news journalism Masters next year and I need a 2:1 to get on to the course. Without these grades, I’ve literally no idea what will happen.

“What am I doing all this work for? Why am I in the library 12 hours a day, stressing myself out, when there’s a chance my exams might not even be marked and I might not be able to graduate?”

Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan said: “Striking academics have pushed students’ patience to the limit and the latest plans to boycott marking and assessment are a kick in the teeth to those who have studied so hard.

“After the disruption students faced through the pandemic, it is profoundly unjust for lecturers to punish them over an industrial dispute that is not of their making - and it’s no surprise that sympathy with their cause among students looks to have fallen away.”

University Staff Strikes

Negotiations are to continue over the next ten days, with the hope that the boycott can be avoided. 

Here is the full list of universities affected by the marking boycott:

  • Birkbeck, University of London

  • Bournemouth University

  • Brighton, The University of

  • Cardiff University

  • Chester, University of

  • Courtauld Institute of Art

  • Dundee, The University of

  • Durham, University of

  • Edinburgh Napier University

  • Edinburgh Napier University

  • Essex, The University of

  • Exeter, The University of

  • Glasgow, The University of

  • Goldsmiths University, London

  • Greenwich, The University of

  • Heriot-Watt University

  • Institute of Development Studies (IDS) 

  • Keele, The University of

  • King’s College London

  • Kingston University

  • Leeds, The University of

  • Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

  • Loughborough University

  • Newcastle University

  • Northampton, The University of

  • Nottingham, The University of

  • Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

  • Queen Mary, University of London

  • Queen’s University Belfast

  • Royal College of Art

  • Royal Northern College of Music

  • Sheffield Hallam University

  • Sheffield, The University of

  • SOAS, University of London

  • Southampton, The University of

  • St Andrews, The University of

  • St Mary’s University College, Belfast

  • Stranmillis University College

  • Sussex, The University of

  • Ulster, University of

  • University for the Creative Arts

  • University of the Arts, London

  • Westminster, The University of

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