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I could have made almost £6,000 instead of writing a dissertation which hasn’t been marked

I worked out the cost of my time lost to my dissertation due to the marking boycott


After nearly 600 hours of planning, research, and writing, I worked out that I could have earned almost £6,000 instead.

The dissertation is often framed as the pinnacle work of a University degree, which can provide a springboard to further work either as a postgraduate or even in a career after uni.

However, as a fourth year student in this position myself, it is hard to even quantify the impact this boycott has had on the final stages of my degree. Having handed my dissertation in months ago, there is a very real chance the 12,000 word project will go unmarked.

Despite our final classifications being released on June 13th, I have still not received a grade for my dissertation, and there remains a chance I never will.

The marking boycott began on April 20th

The emotional toll of writing a dissertation means it is difficult for students to place a monetary value on such a feat. This is an incredibly time-consuming project. I’ve worked out that over the past year, I’ve spent over 567 hours writing my dissertation, which works out to around seven hours a day over a three month period.

The Student Room recommends that in order to achieve a good grade in a dissertation you should spend at least six to eight hours a day working on it. Whilst this may vary from student-to-student, in my experience I would suggest this is pretty accurate for the amount of time it takes to write a 12,000 word dissertation. This is a staggering amount of time to essentially go to waste in the event dissertations will go unmarked.

At a minimum wage job at £10.18 an hour I could have made £5772.06 in the time it took to write my 12,000 word English Literature dissertation. This is without taking into account travel and research costs that go into such a project.

In the knowledge that there remains a possibility that nobody will even look at these words, let alone mark them, this sense of pride very quickly turns sour. To see that the alternative might result in us being almost six grand richer leaves an even more bitter taste in my mouth. A project worth that much emotionally and economically surely deserves to be fought for.

It is equally important to also note the financial and emotional toll this boycott is sure to have had on striking staff members, who often form close working relationships with students they supervise during the dissertation process. There is a feeling amongst students that it is not these staff members who have let us down, but the institution itself which has failed both parties.

Prior to the start of the marking boycott, the Vice Principal of Glasgow Uni, Martin Hendry, promised to minimise the impact of the boycott on students. In a student-wide email, he suggested: “The University is again taking all reasonable steps to ensure we meet our duty to students and that your learning experience is not impacted.”

The reality is, students have been incredibly impacted by the boycott. To think in the time taken to write my dissertation I could have made enough money at my bartending job to pay my rent for the whole university year and still have a grand left over only drives home the importance of such a project.

My belief is, if the university genuinely cared about the welfare of both staff and students, they never would have let it get to this stage in the first place. Graduating students have already had to uniquely navigate university during a pandemic, housing crisis, and cost of living crisis. We students should never have had to experience the emotional torture of becoming bargaining tools in a debate we can do virtually nothing to help resolve ourselves.

As we continue to anxiously await our grades, my peers and I are unable to enjoy the final stages of our degrees. Instead, we are left deflated and uncertain of our futures. As I have failed to receive my grade thus far, my classmates and I will be crossing the stage at graduation on June 27th with work unmarked, and still unsure of our final grades.  To allow staff members their demands and release our grades would be the only positive conclusion to this situation.