All our work for nothing? Marking strike means finalists may not graduate this summer

Lecturers will refuse to mark exams if they don’t get a pay rise by April 28

the tab the tab exeter

Academics refuse to mark exams and coursework unless they get a pay rise 
Final year students may not get degree mark or graduate if boycott goes ahead

Final year students may not be able to graduate this summer after lecturers declared they will not mark exams or coursework unless they get a pay rise.

The University and College Union (UCU), which represents two thirds of lecturers, said its members will only grade exams if uni bosses offer them more cash by April 28th.

Lecturers have gone on strike five times since October last year

Final year students could be left in limbo

If it goes ahead, the boycott will see hundreds of thousands of exam papers unmarked, leaving finalists in an agonising limbo.

Despite six strikes which saw lectures cancelled since October 2013, the universities have proven to be reluctant to engage in talks.

The last time that the UCU threatened to halt marking was in 2006, when the degrees of 300,000 final year students were endangered during the summer.

While lecturers have been offered a pay rise of just 1%, vice-chancellors bagged a 5.1% increase last year – 3% above the rate of inflation.

UCU say the 1% pay offer means there has been a 13% pay cut to its members since October 2008, when inflation is taken into account.

UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “A marking boycott is the ultimate sanction, but an avoidable one if the employers would negotiate with us over pay.

“No member I have spoken to wishes to see this dispute escalate, but in the continued absence of meaningful negotiations from the employers, we are left with no alternative.

“The strong support for our action so far demonstrates how angry staff are at the hypocrisy over pay in our universities.

Avoidable…Sally Hunt says unis can stop the boycott if they negotiate

Walkout: Previous strikes have seen lectures cancelled

“The employers cannot plead poverty when it comes to staff pay and then award enormous rises to a handful at the top.”

Conor Byrne, a second-year History student, agrees with their cause. He said: “Our lecturers work all the time. They juggle between giving lectures, conducting research and marking hundreds of papers all the time. They deserve a pay rise.”

Jenny Bird, a third-year English students disagrees. She said: “The strikes had caused many of my lectures and seminars – things I paid £9000 for – to disappear.

We are inadvertently caught within the centre of their talks, when it isn’t our fight. Leave us out of it.”

The marking boycott will apply to all categories of students. This will include overseas students taught in UK and students on professional courses, such as placement settings within hospital wards and PhD students.