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Confirmed: Both Sheffield universities to be hit by UCU marking boycott from today

The action calls for the boycott of all marking and assessment duties


The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) has confirmed that marking and assessment boycotts (MABs) are to go ahead at 145 universities as part of it’s current dispute over pay and conditions.

Starting today (April 20th), participating members at University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University will not complete any duties related to assessments. This includes marking essays, invigilating exams, and helping students prepare for assessments.

According to the UCU website, the boycott will continue “until the disputes are 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).”

Any work submitted from today will not be marked by those taking part in the MABs and any assessment-related administration, such as distribution of papers to be marked and the organisation of exams, will also not take place.

It’s possible this MAB could lead to assessment questions and exam papers not being provided for students’ exams and submitted assessed work may not be processed.

The UCU website outlines that teaching should still be delivered, students attendance can be noted and coursework that is already set can be collected.

It, however, gives the following list of what should not be undertaken by its members:

• Set examinations/ assessment questions

• Invigilate exams

• Mark papers/essays/projects

• Moderate papers/essays/projects

• Provide informal guidance/feedback to students concerning their mark, grade, or assessed progress of assessments/whether they may pass or fail

• Process marks – including those generated prior to the MAB or produced by non-UCU members

• Record any marks on paper, enter then into an online system or communicate them with students/colleagues

• Attend or participate in any examiners’ board or related meetings

Jo Grady, UCU’s general secretary, said: “In the pay and conditions dispute, UCU members at 145 universities will now prepare to begin a marking and assessment boycott on 20 April. University staff have been clear that they want a better deal, and it is in the interests of employers to make an enhanced offer and prevent serious disruption hitting graduations.”

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