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Cambridge University calls for UCEA and UCU to negotiate admist marking boycott

Students were sent a link to Raven protected FAQs surrounding the MABs this afternoon

The University Cambridge has published a set of FAQs surrounding the current UCU Marking and Assessment boycott, which was circulated to all students via an email today (19/05) at 4:28pm. The list, which is only accessible via a Raven login, is set to “be updated regularly” and is “an attempt to provide information for students at a time of uncertainty, and to answer some frequently asked questions.”

This comes as The Regent House voted against emergency powers that could have protected students from the consequences of the boycott on the 16th of May.

Students quickly banded together to write an Open Letter on the 14th May to the Vice-Chancellors of the University of Cambridge among fears that students could face later graduations than expected.

This student campaign #SettleTheDispute, which has also been taken to Twitter by Cambridge students, has asked for clear actions to occur and, at the time of publishing, has over 1140 signatories. The letter was then sent today at 1:04pm.

Although it is unclear whether or not the Open Letter was the motive for the release of the FAQs, the website was distributed nearly just three and a half hours later.

It is split into ten separate sections. Towards the end of the document it states that, even though Cambridge is aware that it “cannot bring this boycott to an end as an individual institution”, they would like UCEA and UCU to “work together with urgency to find common ground in this dispute”, which they have previously stated publicly.

The document reminds students that Cambridge University remains one of the few institutions which has called for negotiations so far.

Only in the ninth section does it advise students whose mental health is affected by the MAB to ask for support from tutors, DoSes, supervisors, College welfare teams or the University’s support services.

Signs at a Michaelmas strike (Image Credits: Felix Armstrong)

It states that “examinations and assessments will continue to take place during the boycott” and that “students should continue to prepare and attend these as scheduled.” However, it appears less confident surrounding the publication of exam results claiming that informing students of the schedule will not be “easy to predict until there is a resolution to the industrial action.”

Postgrads have also raised concerns about their qualifications, with some expressing that they feel forgotten about. The site confirms that their research examinations “may be affected if one or both of the examiners are participating in the boycott” and so it may mean that “planned viva voce examinations will need to be rescheduled.” First-year PhD students, who are expecting to take a first-year assessment which may not go ahead, “should continue their studies as normal…based on advice from their Departments”.

One of the largest concerns remains amongst international students with visas set to expire. Whilst the FAQs maintain that “there is specific provision for a PhD student to extend their student visa”, it is not normally possible for an undergraduate or Master’s student to do the same. Consequently, if students had been planning to stay in the UK and apply for the post-study graduate visa upon finishing their course, the marking boycott could see them affected because immigration rules require the completion of the course in the confirmation of the degree.

The page claims that “the University is seeking guidance from the Home Office” to see if there can be “any consideration for Graduate visa eligibility” in the case that a student’s degree cannot be confirmed before the expiry of the current visa.

Concerning Graduation ceremonies in June and July, these “will continue to take place” and colleges are working to ensure all students are included in celebratory events, even if some results are publicised late.

The strike on King’s Parade back in Michaelmas (Image Credits: Felix Armstrong)

The University reaffirms that “many UK-based employers will be aware of the industrial action and that this may affect the timeline for awarding grades” and the Careers Service is continuing to raise awareness of the unprecedented circumstances. For students who are wishing to pursue postgraduate study at Cambridge, faculties will make the decisions of whether the academic conditions are met.

It also offers the reassuring advice that, for the majority of cases, students should not be “denied entry to a programme on the grounds of missing marks” due to the strike action, specifically in cases where previous marks show the student is more likely than not to make their offer.

Cambridge maintains that “it is unlikely that any complaint could be considered” before exam results have been published because of the inability to judge the impact of the complaint at this given time. Nonetheless, it confirms that students will be able to raise complaints on the impact of the strike action on them with an email to follow in the next few months that will provide further information on this.

The University of Cambridge has been contacted for comment.

This is a live story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Featured Image Credit: Felix Armstrong