Confirmed: UCU marking boycott starts today affecting both Newcastle and Northumbria Uni

The boycott will mean all assessment related duties will not go ahead

On Tuesday, the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) confirmed that a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) will go ahead, affecting the universities involved in current disputes over pay and conditions.

The boycott will begin from today, April 20th, and will see staff at 145 participating universities refusing to complete all assessment related duties, including invigilating exams, marking essays and aiding students in preparation for assessments.

Further assessment related administration such as distribution of papers to be marked and organisation of exams is not to take place. The boycott applies to all forms and years of higher education.

The latest industrial action will continue for six months (until October 2023) unless the disputes are settled or UCU calls it off and universities could threaten to cut the pay of lecturers by 50 or 100 per cent which would lead to members not striking.

The boycott comes after a majority of the union’s members voted to reject their university employers’ offer to settle the pay and working conditions dispute. As a result, affected universities will be hit with MABs as a part of Actions Short of Strike (ASOS) from today.

The UCU’s general secretary Jo Grady said: “In the pay and conditions dispute, UCU members at 145 universities will now prepare to begin a marking and assessment boycott on 20th 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.”

As for what this means for students, it’s understood that assessment questions and exam papers may not be provided for student’s exams and submitted assessed work will not be processed. Moreover, there is the possibility that students may graduate without knowing their final grade.

UCU said: “We have given every opportunity to the employers to resolve the pay and working conditions and/or USS pensions dispute”. They encourage students to “contact the vice-chancellor or principal to raise the impact of the industrial action on their studies”.

More information regarding the marking boycott can be found on the UCU website.