University Marking Boycott Could See Thousands Of Students Miss Out On Graduation
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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.”
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
Brighton, The University of
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
Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
Keele, The University of
King’s College London
Leeds, The University of
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
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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