Breaking: Bristol University students will graduate even if their diss goes unmarked

Students will be able to progress if only 50 per cent of assessments for an affected unit have been completed

Bristol University students will graduate this summer even if their dissertations haven’t been marked, an email sent to students today has revealed.

The document makes clear the university’s senior management want as many students to graduate as possible this summer, even if it means work goes unmarked.

The measures outlined state that “the principal form of mitigation is to exclude the affected unit or assessment mark/s.”

Under such measures, the maximum amount of credits allowed to be excluded are 40 for industrial action mitigation specifically and 60 overall.

This means that final-year students will still be able to graduate with unmarked dissertations because they constitute 40 unit credits.

Critics of the measures have accused the university of effectively handing out “pretend degrees“. One senior lecturer said: “This would seriously undermine the quality of a University of Bristol degree.

“Graduating students will travel to Bristol this summer to participate in what is a pretend graduation, a sham graduation, a glorified garden party.”

However, in an email sent to heads of department last night, Pro Vice-Chancellor for education Tansy Jessop told staff the measures were to “award degrees and progress students while protecting our standards”.

Alongside having potentially unmarked dissertations, if industrial action leaves students with an abnormal range of marks they may still be able to pass the unit so long as they have “completed at least 50% of the summative assessment.”

Millie, a third-year Classics student, has told The Tab: “If my diss isn’t marked I would be absolutely devastated. I spent months researching and writing something I am very proud off and it would be beyond irritating if that hard work was all for nothing.”

Roughly 400 students have already signed an open letter to the university senior leadership team calling on them to resume negotiations with the UCU and end the marking boycott. You can sign here.

A University of Bristol spokesperson has said: “We are very sorry about the uncertainty and frustration the marking and assessment boycott is causing our students and want to offer assurance that our priority is to support them through this challenging period.

“We expect that most students’ academic outcomes will not be affected but we have put in place contingency plans to help examination boards make sound and robust decisions that will maintain the quality and high standards associated with a Bristol degree. Graduations will be taking place this summer and decisions will be made about progression for continuing students.

“This may mean some final year students graduate with their final result pending, where they have passed but there is not enough evidence to classify their degree.

“This action is part of a long-running national dispute led by the University and College Union [UCU] 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. 

“Personal tutors and school offices are here to offer support and students will be kept up to date with any developments.”

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• Bristol Uni accused of handing out ‘pretend degrees’ as students could pass without marks