The University and College Union (UCU) who represent academic and some academic-related staff have announced a marking and assessment boycott from Thursday 20 April. The marking and assessment boycott will continue until settled, or UCU calls off the boycott, or at the end of the industrial action ballot mandate (usually six months after the industrial action ballot closes).
This will be in addition to the action short of a strike mandate that UCU hold already which we told you about in communications earlier in the year.
What should I expect?
UCU members who participate in the newly announced boycott or on-going action short of strike will continue to deliver lectures and sessions, record student attendance and collect already planned coursework.
However, members may not participate in the following activities:
- set examinations or assessment questions
- invigilate examinations
- mark papers, essays, or projects
- moderate papers, essays, or projects
- provide informal guidance/feedback to students concerning their likely mark, grade or assessed progress of summative assessments, whether they may pass/fail
- process marks--including marks generated prior to the beginning of the assessment boycott and marks which may be produced by non-UCU members
- record any marks on paper, enter them into any online system, or communicate them to colleagues or students
- attend or participate in any examiners' boards or related meetings.
In addition, ‘action short of a strike’ means that UCU members participating will only complete contracted duties. This could include: not undertaking any voluntary activities; not covering for absent colleagues; removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action; not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action; and undertaking a marking and assessment boycott.
If you would like to read more about the UCU action you can read their frequently asked questions.
What does the marking and assessment boycott mean for you?
Students must continue to submit assessments by the published deadline and attend exams. Students must also attend practical assessments as scheduled, and report it to your programme leader if the member of staff does not attend the session.
The University is working closely with each School to establish how they will manage any impact from staff participating in the marking and assessment boycott. This could include organising alternative markers or session supervisors to ensure you continue to receive your marks on time and that sessions take place as planned.
Staff participating in the boycott are expected to inform their Associate Dean if they are unable to meet the four-week deadline for marking. They are also advised to tell their students as per our policy.
We anticipate there may be some delays and you may be concerned about your assessments, but we are working hard to minimise any impact.
Your School will be in touch with you. We want to reassure you that while your marks may be delayed, you will still receive them in time for you to finish your academic year, or to graduate if you are in your final year as planned.
Click on a link below to find frequently asked questions.
Learning and Teaching
Can I contact my lecturer or personal tutor?
Yes, you can continue to contact staff but please note there may be a delay in receiving a response if it is out of working hours. If your query is urgent, we would advise you to speak to your School office.
We do not know how many staff will be participating in the industrial action, so you should continue to contact staff as you need to. Schools will put alternative arrangements in place, so you are fully supported throughout.
Will I be able to watch lectures online?
Automatic recording that is set up already will continue as normal. These recordings will be available on your programme site.
How can I complain about strike action?
The University will remain open throughout this time and is working to minimise potential disruption to the student experience. For students who are concerned that they have been disadvantaged by industrial action, the University has a complaints process in place.
We would always hope to resolve a concern raised informally, and it is therefore incredibly important that full details of the issues are reported as quickly as possible. If a concern relates to academic studies, the student should liaise with their personal tutor or programme leader in the first instance. For further guidance relating to the University’s complaint process, please visit online, and for impartial advice and support, please visit the Students’ Union Advice & Support Centre.
For additional guidance from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) relating to industrial action, and how this may potentially impact students, please visit the OIA website.
I’m a postgraduate research student, who should I contact?
We advise you to speak to your School’s Associate Dean (Research) if you have any questions or concerns.
Will there be any delays to assignment feedback?
There may be some delays to feedback however we will work hard to minimise this. Your School will put in place alternative markers where possible. If your lecturers are unable to achieve the four-week deadline for return of marked coursework, they will let you know.
Can I submit an extension for my assignment because of the strike?
You should continue to work to complete any assignments and assessments on time. The impact of the strike action will be recorded by your School as part of assessments.
Will the strike action affect facilities?
No, our facilities including our Learning Resources Centres (LRCs), cafes and study spaces will remain open as usual.
I’m worried about the strike action impact on my studies. Who can I contact?
If you are worried about the impact on your course, please contact your programme leader or Dean with details on your concern so that they can identify how to support you.
Our student wellbeing team will be open throughout the strike days should you wish to speak to them. We also have our free and confidential 24/7 wellbeing helpline too.
How will I log my attendance if my classes are cancelled?
If your class is cancelled as a result of the industrial action, you will not be penalised in terms of attendance. However, you are expected to continue to swipe your card while you’re on campus, attend all other classes that continue as scheduled, and log into Canvas, as normal.