Durham University students with unmarked work won’t have graduation ceremony until next spring

The university has admitted a ‘significant’ number of students will face delays due to marking boycott


Just 10 days shy of when graduation ceremonies are supposed to begin, Durham University has this afternoon announced some of its students won’t have their graduation ceremony until next spring.

The university hit out at the UCU for the disruption the marking assessment and boycott has caused, admitting “a significant number of students will face delays in receiving all their marks and final classifications”.

Whilst all students are invited to attend a congregation this summer, which the university says will “mark the completion of your degree”, only those with all marks will graduate.

The email sent to finalists this afternoon also outlined what will be awarded to students without fully marked work in the meantime. Students who have more than 80 credits worth of marked work will receive an interim classified degree, and those with more than 60 will receive an interim outcome which the university says “will be clearly indicated on your pass list”.

Students with less than 60 credits worth of marked work will only be awarded a transcript of available marks.

Tony Fawcett, Durham University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, told students that he “sympathise[s]” and “fully appreciate[s] the anxiety that the uncertainty around your results may be causing you”.

However, Fawcett also admitted he can not put a time frame on when marking will be fully completed, also telling students that he “regret[s] that at this point [he] cannot give you a definitive date for when you will receive all of your results”.

Durham University has offered financial contributions to those students graduating next spring. The university says a grant will be made in support of costs surrounding “robes, travel and accommodation”.

Further details about financial grants will not be made known until later this summer.

Durham University explained the interim qualifications it is awarding are a “minimum guaranteed award”. This means that when all marks are available, a student’s final grade can go up but not down.

The university also intends to provide students who will be awarded interim qualifications with a letter explaining their meaning. This letter, the uni claims, “can be used as the evidence you need to progress to employment or future study”.

A Durham University spokesperson said: “The majority of Durham’s undergraduate students will graduate with a classified degree or an interim award, while, unfortunately, a significant number of students will face delays in receiving all their marks and final classifications.

“We deeply sympathise with our students, already impacted by the pandemic, who now endure further uncertainty and anxiety.

“We are reassuring our students that any remaining work will be marked as swiftly as possible, and we will provide marks and final classifications as soon as they are available.

“We will maintain academic standards and are accountable to the Office for Students on this.

“We communicate regularly with students and are offering them individual support, including liaising directly with employers or other universities where they are continuing studies.

“All students are invited to ceremonies in Durham Cathedral this summer. We have offered further ceremonies at a later date to those who cannot receive a final degree at the present time.

“It is deeply disappointing that the UCU have implemented a national marking and assessment boycott, and that some of our staff have chosen to take part. The impact of the industrial action is concentrated in a few departments.

“As a university we are part of national pay bargaining. We are caught up in a dispute that affects 145 higher education institutions.

“The dispute is the result of an aggregated national ballot carried by a narrow majority of UCU members. Although we have made strenuous efforts, in dialogue with the employers’ body, UCEA, to seek a way forward, this is not an issue we can resolve locally.

“While we deeply appreciate the cost-of-living pressures on all our staff, universities also face significant financial challenges.”

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