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UCU marking boycott confirmed to go ahead at Bristol University

What does this mean for students?

The UCU are calling staff to stop all summative marking and assessment duties from today (April 20).

The boycott also covers assessment related work such as exam invigilation and the processing of marks. It applies to all forms and years of higher education.

The boycott will continue for six months (until October 2023) unless the disputes are settled or UCU calls it off.

Some universities are threatening to cut the pay of lecturers by 50 or 100 per cent which could lead to members not striking.

The higher education committee made the decision to commit to the marking strike and 145 universities will be taking place in the strike action, including Bristol University.

What does this mean for students?

Any work that you submit from today e.g. coursework, examination marking, practical work or performances, scientific experiments, presentations ect. will not be marked by those participating in the marking boycott.

The boycott covers exam invigilation and the recording of marks into any university system. Assessment-related administration such as distribution of papers to be marked and organisation of exams is not to take place.

This could mean assessment questions and exam papers will not be provided for student’s exams and submitted assessed work will not be processed.

This is incredibly worrying news for students, especially those in their final year, who spend months preparing and writing assessments. The boycott could disrupt the process of obtaining degrees.

One student commented beneath the UCU tweet announcing the boycott: “This is unbelievably selfish towards students, I feel like the UCU haven’t thought of the consequences for students at all. What exactly are we paying £9250 for??”

UCU says: “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”.

Another student wrote: “I’ve been a student since Covid and have remained patient and supportive. But I can’t support this. I feel directly targeted as a student and that my hard work no longer matters. Im furious.”

A spokesperson from The University of Bristol told The Bristol Tab: “As part of their ongoing industrial action, we have been informed by Universities College Union (UCU) that they intend to undertake a marking and assessment boycott to start on April 20th 2023. 

“We know this news will be unsettling for both our staff and students. We are doing everything we can to make sure we have appropriate measures in place to manage this further action short of strike (ASOS) and our advice to students is to continue to engage fully with their studies and prepare for assessments as usual. 

 “This is part of a long-running national dispute affecting more than 100 universities with multiple demands on pay, pension and working conditions. While we are working with our local unions here at Bristol, the sector needs to find affordable solutions and better ways of resolving this ongoing dispute nationally. 

“We are already working hard to mitigate disruption to our students, many of whom have already faced numerous difficulties due to the pandemic and previous industrial action. We understand how challenging this is and would like to apologise to those who are affected. Personal tutors and school offices are ready to offer support for any students who are concerned about the impact this industrial action may have on their studies.”

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

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