‘I’m gutted’: Students speak out as marking boycott leaves them in limbo

Only a quarter of UK uni students support the marking boycott, a Tab survey has found

Only a quarter of UK uni students support the marking boycott, a survey by The Tab has found – compared to almost three-quarters of students who supported the lecturer strikes earlier this year.

For the past month, lecturers at almost every UK university have been refusing to carry out marking and other assessment-related work like exam invigilation. This follows weeks’ worth of strikes earlier this academic year, as staff are in an ongoing campaign for better pay and pensions, among other things.

Students have been left feeling in limbo, and unis are scrambling for what to do. Bristol and Edinburgh students have been told they could graduate without their dissertations being marked, whereas Cambridge students are facing delays in being able to graduate. Hundreds of students have signed open letters to their universities urging them to settle the dispute.

The Tab asked almost 8,500 students at 24 of the biggest universities across the UK if they support the UCU marking boycott in a poll on our Instagram stories, and just 27 per cent per cent said they do.

This is a drastic change from the 70 per cent who said they supported the UCU lecturer strikes in February this year.

Glasgow students support the boycott the most – but still, only just over a third of students there do, compared to over 80 per cent who told us in February they supported the strikes. At the other end of the scale, only 13 per cent of Brookes students support the marking boycott.

Dan Street, a Glasgow third year, said he agrees with the lecturers’ fight but says the marking boycott is extreme. “I’m pretty gutted as a third year”, Dan told The Tab. “But there’s fourth year international students who’ve paid £80k+ for their degrees and they won’t get a dissertation grade. It stinks. They (the academics and the unions) could’ve chosen measures that wouldn’t impact us like that. I believe in their fight and what they want but this is extreme and extremely unfair on students.”

Another Glasgow student, who is an international student, said: “We are paying absolute thousands of pounds to be here only for them to not mark our work. They are literally holding up an entire generation of undergraduates from investing in their future.”

“I get why [they’re doing it], it’ll make unis listen but it’s jeopardising people’s grad jobs, Master’s and graduations”, one student said. “I will be stressing the whole summer until I get my results”, a Warwick student told us. Another simply said: “I want a £27k refund.”

A student from another uni told us: “I’m really worried about how it’s going to affect my grade as my dissertation may not be marked, and I’ve got an exam due tomorrow which I’m spending all my time on which again might not be marked.”

They agree with and support the strike but think “the uni should not put third year students in this precarious position that might jeopardise their future”. “All this work feels like it’s for nothing”, they said.

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Bristol University students will graduate even if their diss goes unmarked