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‘I don’t trust anything anymore’: Edinburgh University students on the marking boycott

If you waste students’ time and money, they’re going to be very angry


In the wake of the recent announcement that dissertations and coursework for all yeargroups may go unmarked at the University of Edinburgh as part of a nationwide marking and assessment boycott, the student body is responding with a whirlwind of outrage.

The Edinburgh Tab has been inundated with responses to an Instagram questionnaire asking students for their opinions on the situation which has shocked everyone on campus.

One student shared their disbelief: “The uni can’t ask us to do work they aren’t marking.” Another expressed their frustration: “I feel completely powerless as a student. I need my rightful grades I worked hard for to live.”

Following the escalating situation, feelings of betrayal are developing among the student body. “I am FUMING. How am I meant to get a job if the uni provides me with a pass degree?” a third student pondered. “It’s like they want us to hate them,” expressed a respondent.

The university’s decision has spurred students into action, with many advocating for a unified response. One student declared, “I’m so sick of this uni. No lectures, no Teviot, no marks – what is the point?” following the controversial announced closure of Teviot Row House.

Another added, “The millions they’re spending on renovating Teviot? Yeah, pay your staff instead, Mathieson,” criticising the University of Edinburgh principal, Sir Peter Mathieson.

A spokesperson for the university has said: “The University has robust measures in place to reduce the impact of industrial action and we are making every effort to provide results, degree award outcomes and progression decisions to students by the published timelines.”

Despite the university’s statement, students remain unconvinced and continue to share their frustrations. “I support the lecturers… but this feels like a slap in the face for graduating students that put in so much work amid Covid, WW3 anxiety, cost-of-living crisis, etc…” one said.

Despite the university’s statement, students remain unconvinced and continue to share their frustrations. “I support the lecturers… but this feels like a slap in the face for graduating students that put in so much work amid Covid, WW3 anxiety, cost-of-living crisis, etc…” one said.

Continuing the rising tide of student sentiment, a fourth-year undergraduate reflected on the toll the situation is taking on their mental health: “It feels like all the stress and burnout trying to finish coursework was for nothing.”

The groundswell of student voices doesn’t stop at expressing outrage; many demand action. “I say they give everyone firsts – sick and tired of our year being f*****,” commented one respondent. “I think we should riot fr fr.”

In a stark reflection of the prevailing sentiment, another student joked, “This school is one major scandal away from collapsing completely.”

The Edinburgh Tab’s Instagram has become a rallying point for students, who continue to share their stories and seek collective action to address their grievances. “I hope this is a wake-up call to the institution. There is such a simple fix: PAY THEM MORE,” one respondent urged.

Yet, amid the anger and calls for protest, there’s also a palpable sense of disappointment. “Actually so bad, but honestly not a surprise from this university…” shared one student, “It’s just one bad experience after another.”

In a notable development, an open letter from Edinburgh University academics has added a new dimension to the unfolding situation. The letter, signed by over 500 academics, highlights the threat to academic standards posed by the current situation.

The letter criticises the university’s decision to potentially leave dissertations unmarked, arguing that it undermines the value of students’ work and compromises the university’s reputation for academic excellence.

In part, it reads: “As teachers, we are appalled that our degrees and the welfare of our students, not to mention the health and welfare of staff, should be treated with such a cavalier disregard. We appeal to you to rethink your approach and find a response to the current dispute that does not disadvantage students or undermine the integrity of our degrees.”

This academic intervention echoes the students’ sentiments and adds weight to their demands. It underscores the shared concern between students and staff about the University’s handling of the situation.

“I feel bad for the lecturers if this is the drastic action they have to take to be heard by the uni,” one student responded on reading the open letter.

In the face of this united front from students and academics, the university finds itself under increasing pressure to find a solution that respects both the rights of its staff and the academic future of its students.

In response to the ongoing criticism, the university reiterated its commitment to minimising disruption, saying “additional measures are being implemented across higher education institutions to ensure students’ ability to learn, progress and graduate is not compromised, while maintaining academic standards.”

However, despite the university’s assurances, the student body’s trust appears shaken. “Just makes me question how much the uni management actually cares about anyone but themselves,” a respondent argued.

This situation at Edinburgh University is not isolated. It has ignited a debate that extends far beyond the university’s walls, touching on the issue of higher education’s value and the institutions’ responsibility during times of crisis.

This issue isn’t just about unmarked dissertations but, as students made clear, about respect for student work, the value of higher education, and the treatment of academic staff.

One respondent aptly said: “It’s the uni letting us down, not the tutors. They didn’t want to do this; they care.” As the university continues to navigate these turbulent waters, it’s clear that the students of Edinburgh University won’t back down without a fight.

The question now is, how will the university respond to this rising tide of student activism?

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “The University has robust measures in place to reduce the impact of industrial action and we are making every effort to provide results, degree award outcomes and progression decisions to students by the published timelines.

“The marking and assessment boycott is part of a national campaign. Additional measures are being implemented across higher education institutions to ensure students’ ability to learn, progress and graduate is not compromised, while maintaining academic standards.

“The University’s Senate Academic Policy and Regulations Committee has agreed a range of temporary variations to provide greater flexibility to marking assessments and consider the ways industrial action has impacted learning, teaching and assessment. These are accompanied by conditions of use to ensure that academic standards are not compromised. Such variations will only be used in the event that activities have been significantly disrupted by industrial action and only when it is not possible to mitigate this using existing provisions of regulations and policies.”

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