Edinburgh exams may be affected by further strikes as UCU discuss what action to take next

Marking may be boycotted

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Despite the initial planned strike action coming to an end next week, students are not yet out of the woods when it comes to exams potentially being affected.

At an informal meeting today numerous UCU members showed support for targeting exams as a means of pressuring the university. Exactly the form this would take is unclear, however some suggestions included a refusal to mark or provide exams.

The exams themselves would be difficult to target given that external invigilators can be brought in, however striking staff certainly have the ability to cause significant disruption to the summer exam diet and the feedback students receive.

You might not need to sit in one of these in the summer

Whilst staff are keen to minimise impact upon students, and maximise that upon management, they are also well aware of the leverage the ability to disrupt exams gives them. In a stalemate situation such as that which has emerged between UUK and the UCU, such leverage could be invaluable.

As well as being discussed in Tuesday’s informal gathering, impacting exams was also mentioned in a motion passed at UCU Edinburgh’s general meeting on Friday. The motion stated the branch’s belief that action should be escalated if an agreement is not reached at the end of the initial 14 days of strike action, and that this escalation would be accompanied by an assessment boycott.

Although there were several voices in support of such action, there were also a number opposed to it. One PhD student pointed out that all students he had spoken to had stated how unhappy they would be should exams be disrupted, and that student support was key in swaying public opinion.

Another member of the meeting highlighted that waiting until May or June to take further action may mean losing the momentum that has been built up so far.

That such disagreements are taking place within one branch of the UCU shows the difficulty of the situation at hand. UUK insist the current scheme is unaffordable, whilst UCU Edinburgh refuses to back down from their demand for it to be continued in full.

UUK’s offer on Monday appears to have done nothing more than to enrage and further motivate striking staff, meaning that the dispute running into the May exam period currently seems a real possibility.