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Marking and Assessmet Boycott

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We're sharing information from the Strathclyde University and College Union (UCU) branch about the Marking and Assessment Boycott that began on Monday April 17th.

What is a marking and assessment boycott (MAB)?

Union members will cease to undertake any marking, assessment, invigilation, or administration of any summative assessment that will be used to arrive at a final grade for a module or degree programme. This is a form of industrial action, and part of ‘action short of a strike’ (ASOS).

Why is the marking and asessment boycott (MAB) taking place?

UCU members at Strathclyde and at universities nationwide are taking part in this MAB as part of our ongoing dispute with employers about four issues that affect the ability of universities to deliver the education that students deserve:

  • Real terms pay cuts imposed on university workers every year for the past decade, putting staffin financial difficulty and affecting our ability to recruit the best staff for your degree programmes;
  • Pay inequalities and the large gender, race, and disability pay gaps in universities, despite theUniversity of Strathclyde's rhetoric about being a "socially progressive" institution;
  • Understaffing and the resulting impossible workloads that harm our health and damage thequality of your education;
  • Casualisation and the increase in insecure employment contracts across UK higher education,denying staff job security and the ability to plan for the future.

Despite the massive UCU strikes this year, employers have refused to make any real commitments to tackling these issues, and even 'imposed a pay uplift that in reality amounts to a real terms paycut' while negotiations we going on with unions. UCU members and the democratic decision-making bodies of the union have collectively decided to undertake a marking and assessment boycott to put pressure on University management to solve these long-standing and severeissues. Employers could prevent the MAB at any point by making a meaningful offer on pay,inequalities, workloads, and casualisation, but they have chosen not to do so, leaving union members little choice but to escalate our action.

During the MAB, UCU members will cease all work related tomarking and assessment. This includes: marking essays, exams,assessed presentations or posters, fieldwork, experiments, placements, oral examinations such as PhD vivas, and practical work. The boycott covers all administrative work involved insetting assessments and processing feedback and marks.

It is very likely that there will be significant delays to:

  • Assessed work being marked and marks being returned;
  • Grades being confirmed at summer exam boards;
  • Confirmation of progression into the next year of study; and
  • For final year students and masters students it is likely there will be a delay to graduation.

UCU members are only taking this action as a last resort. Many of us are at breaking point. We firmly believe that staff and students are on the same side in this dispute, united in the fight for a fairer and more socially just university. We believe our working conditions are your learning conditions and that if our actions are successful they will improve the university for everyone, staff and students alike.

What can I do about the MAB?

If you'd like to raise the issue of how the MAB is impacting your studies please email:

You may also wish to raise the matter with key members of senior staff such as the Dean or Vice-Dean Academic of your Faculty. Their contact details can be found on the University website.

Are you getting the education that you deserve?

The MAB is going to seriously affect the ability of the University to award degrees and to make process decisions, despite the messaging that will inevitably follow from senior management. Do not accept a compromise in academic quality! If you are awarded a degree classification or a grade that you feel is unfair, based on extrapolation based on marks from only a small part ofyour module or programme then you should appeal this. You have worked hard on your assessments and you deserve a fairmark and constructive feedback from a member of staff who is qualified to mark your work.

University of Strathclyde management are withholding pay from any staff taking part in the boycott. This means that even if someone's job is, for example, 10% marking and 90% teaching, research and otherwork, they will not be paid appropriately for the work they do during the period of the boycott. This punitive response shows that they know how much power disrupting students' assessment, progression and graduation has. This does not need to happen. We need the employer to meaningfully negotiate with UCU to improve pay and working conditions. We need your support to help us end this action as quickly as possible.


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