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Edinburgh University offers to continue paying striking lecturers if they mark final years’ work

Last week it was reported final years could be graduating without dissertations marked amid the marking boycott

Edinburgh University has offered not to withhold the pay of lecturers participating in the University and Colleges Union (UCU) marking boycott if they agree to mark final years’ work.

This proposition follows the announcement last week that the UCU has pushed for a nationwide marking and assessment boycott as part of national industrial action, meaning that dissertations and coursework for all year groups may go unmarked

The industrial action and boycott are rooted in ongoing disputes over pension reforms, wage disparities, casualisation, and a perceived increase in staff workload. 

Unsurprisingly, the potential of dissertations and coursework going unmarked has created anxiety among students. One student confessed to the Edinburgh Tab, feeling “completely powerless” in the face of the situation.

So, what does Edinburgh’s proposition mean? The university proposed to the UCU Edinburgh branch that “colleagues participating in this action would not have 50 per cent of their pay withheld if they agreed to mark and assess the work of graduating and final year students. Our proposal includes the final work for postgraduate students and those students who must meet specific conditions to allow them to progress in their degree.”

This proposal looks to lessen the potential impact of the strike action on students’ academic performance and progress while also easing the pay concerns of the striking staff.

After hearing the university’s proposition, the UCU has decided to put it to a vote among its members. This move ensures that those most affected by the proposal – the staff members – get a say in the decision that could shape their pay and the future of their protest.

In a move that could alleviate some financial woes for the striking staff, the university has offered to put a pause on withholding 50 per cent of the pay from those who participated in the April boycott. That means the full salary for April will land in the bank accounts of those participants in May, which might ease some of the financial stress caused by the strike.

But it’s not just about the money. This move is also a nod of recognition to the hardships caused by the strike, financial and otherwise.