Breaking: Edinburgh Uni confirms marking boycott to go ahead in May
Graduations, assessments and exams are still expected to go ahead as normal
Edinburgh University staff are expected to take part in a marking boycott from 23 May, as part of an ongoing dispute about pay and working conditions.
Whilst class strike action has occurred frequently over the past four years, this is the first time that lecturers and tutors are expected to temporarily refuse to mark students’ work.
A spokesperson for the University College Union (UCU), the trade union organising the industrial action told The Edinburgh Tab that this escalation “reflects the anger of staff towards employers who continue to ignore the crisis in higher education”.
UCU members have been striking nationally, including at Edinburgh University, due to real-term cuts to their pensions, increasing workloads, and an unresolved gender and racial pay gap among staff.
Responding to the boycott announcement, a spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said that it recognises the situation is a “concern for students”.
In an email sent to students on Wednesday afternoon, Vice Principal Colm Harmon insisted that the university’s top priority was to avoid disruption to students’ teaching.
Edinburgh has stated that all 2022 graduations will go ahead as planned, despite the marking boycott.
Students are expected to submit remaining assessments and sit forthcoming exams as normal. Whilst assessment feedback could be delayed by boycott and strike action, libraries and other university buildings will remain open.
It remains unclear exactly which Edinburgh staff will be taking part in the nationwide boycott, as many courses have already concluded both teaching and assessments for the 2022/23 academic year.
The dispute between academic staff and university bodies is based on the UCU’s ‘Four Fights’ initiative. The union’s members object primarily to four trends: increasing workloads, casualisation, inequality, and reforms to pay and pensions.
Responding to the announcement in full, a spokesperson for Scotland UCU told The Edinburgh Tab: “The fact that members have escalated the disputes over the USS pension, and pay and working conditions to a marking and assessment boycott reflects the anger of staff towards employers who continue to ignore the crisis in higher education.
“UCU research has shown that two-thirds of university staff are considering leaving the sector over the next five years as a result of year-on-year real term pay cuts, rising workloads, and that nothing is being done to address the rampant use of insecure contracts or shocking equality failings and pay gaps.”
The University of Edinburgh’s FAQ page can be accessed here, for further details on their response to the action.
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