University marking boycott: Start date announced as graduations hang in the balance

Students at 44 UK unis may not receive their final grades

Lecturers at 44 universities will begin a marking boycott in less than two weeks time, escalating strike action that has been a constant presence on UK campuses over the past few years.

The marking boycott will begin on May 23rd and could result in students not receiving their final grades or even graduating.

For a full list of the universities that will be affected by the marking boycott, click here.

The University and College Union (UCU) represents the interests of staff at UK universities and is the organisation behind the strikes.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “UCU has served the statutory minimum notice of two weeks to university employers, informing them that the marking and assessment boycott will start on 23 May.

“Employers now have two weeks to avoid the first UK-wide boycott of this kind in over a decade by finally making serious offers on the issues of pensions, pay and working conditions.

“Our members choose to work in universities because they love working with and supporting students, and no staff member is taking this action lightly. But cuts to pensions, low pay, insecure contracts and exhausting workloads have pushed staff to breaking point. 

“The marking boycott is a last resort for staff who feel like they have no other choice. The fault lies solely with university bosses who are choosing to let students suffer by refusing to deal with the issues that blight higher education.

“We urge vice-chancellors to use the sector’s huge financial reserves to resolve the dispute and avoid any further disruption.” 

A Tab poll revealed that following the decision to stage a marking boycott, three in four students no longer supported striking lecturers, with one student saying: “I really do sympathise with lecturers, but it gets to a point where they just take the piss.”

Universities minister Michelle Donelan told The Tab: “Striking academics have pushed students’ patience to the limit and the latest plans to boycott marking and assessment are a kick in the teeth to all those who have studied so hard.

“After the disruption students faced through the pandemic it is profoundly unjust for lecturers to punish them over an industrial dispute that is not of their making – and it’s no surprise that sympathy with their cause amongst students looks to have fallen away.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• Three out of four students no longer support striking lecturers after marking boycott

• Students may not graduate as staff at 44 universities boycott marking work

• These are the 40 universities facing more strike action before the end of the academic year