Edinburgh Uni results day: Final years given ‘no decision’ degrees amid marking boycott

Many students have been told today that they will not be able to receive their degree or classification before graduation day

After months of the UCU marking boycott, Edinburgh final-year students are beginning to hear the results today, a time that should be a (hopefully) happy conclusion to their four years of hard work. However, many are being told today that their degree marks are being delayed, meaning that they will be graduating next month with no formal degree, whilst others are being awarded unclassified degrees.

An email sent to students, seen by The Tab Edinburgh, says that “due to the current marking and assessment boycott”, decisions on certain degrees have been delayed, and that the university “cannot provide a clear indication of when we may have sufficient information to make a final decision”. As a result, students with delayed decisions will be walking the stage at their graduation without a certificate, despite the four years of work poured into their degrees.

Another outcome that many students are facing is the decision by the university to award unclassified degrees, meaning that students won’t know if they have received a first or 2.1 in their degree until the dispute is settled. The email sent out this morning goes on to say that “unfortunately, we cannot provide a clear indication of when we may have sufficient information to make a final decision regarding the classification but please be assured that we will revisit this as soon as we can.”

Emails sent to students say the university “appreciates this is an extremely difficult and unsettling situation…and that this may also have an impact on your future plans”. For the likes of PhD and Master’s hopefuls, this means that their futures may be severally disadvantaged by the lack of decision today, causing anxiety, confusion, and frustration amongst the student body.

Further confusion has also arisen from the marks available on EUCLID, the University of Edinburgh’s student portal. Whilst students that have delayed degrees are being shown that they have “Award decision deferred” meaning that they are unable to be awarded a degree, students with unclassified degrees are being shown that they have ‘met the requirements for an honours award” so are able to.

Amongst this confusion, some students have been awarded classified degrees, some having had their dissertations marked whilst others have not, even within the same school. For example, one final year student taking Social Anthropology and Archeology has told The Tab that they have been awarded a classified degree, whilst their friend and fellow Social Anthropology student also taking Linguistics has had their decision deferred so will not be graduating with a degree.

The decision to release unclassified degrees and delayed results has caused anger amongst final-year students, which only adds to the four years of disrupted teaching that these students have faced. Fourth-year students have had to endure Covid online and hybrid teaching, strike disruptions, and various marking boycotts throughout their degrees, and for many, now have nothing to show for it apart from a certificate of completion offered to all students and available within the emails released today.

What’s more, the release of unclassified or delayed degrees contradicts the university’s pledge to base marks on provisional grades, which would have seen students graduating with degrees based on their previous work over their past four years. 

The strike action and marking boycott itself has been the result of a long-running fight by the University and College Union (UCU) on its ‘four fights’ dispute, where it aims to reduce casualisation of university worker contracts, as many are on zero-hour and precarious contracts, pay in line with inflation, a fair workload, and equality amongst staff regardless of their gender, sexuality and race. 

Previous negotiations amongst UCU Edinburgh representatives and University staff had seen the University offering to pay lecturers to mark final-year dissertations, however, the Union rejected this offer, stating that the proposal to stop withholding pay for staff was appalling and “alarming”.

In response to the release of marks today, a university spokesperson told The Tab Edinburgh: “Many of our final year students have received their degree results as expected today. Some students have received a provisional award and will receive their degree classification at a later date. For others, a decision regarding the outcome of their degree has been delayed owing to the marking and assessment boycott. We have contacted these students individually to advise them of next steps. We recognise the impact this is having on their lives and future plans and we share their frustration at being caught in the crossfire of this national dispute.

“Graduations will continue as planned. All students who have been awarded their degree, final or provisional, or who are awaiting a final decision on their degree outcome, will be able to participate in a ceremony. As in any year, those who have failed or not completed their final year for reasons not directly related to the marking and assessment boycott will not be able to participate in the graduation ceremony.

“Our priority now is to ensure that any outstanding exams and assessments are marked in a timely manner while maintaining rigorous academic standards so that we can provide a full and final degree classification for all students due to complete their programme this year.”

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