Lancaster University admits MAB could stop students progressing to next year of studies

Students’ progression could be ‘be deferred until later in the summer’, university guidance announces

Lancaster University has informed students that unmarked modules affected by the UCU Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) might delay their progression to their next year of studies.

Thursday 13th July was results day at Lancaster University, yet many students haven’t received a lot of their exam marks due to the MAB. The university sent an email yesterday, amid the announcement of results, with guidance for students’ next steps.

This information conflicts an email sent by the university on 6th July 2023, which confirmed all work would be marked.

A survey conducted on The Lancaster Tab’s Instagram showed departments in LEC, as well as the Physics and Chemistry departments, were the most heavily impacted by the MAB, although at least a total of 28 modules across the university have been affected.

This data conflicts with an email sent by the university on May 12th 2023, which explained that it was “expected that most exams and assessments will be marked according to the usual timeframe”.

An email sent to second year Criminology students informed them that because they did not have a “full mark profile” for one module due to the MAB, the university is “not able to confirm [their] progression into Year three”. This was followed by an email containing guidance for Part I and Part II continuing students.

This guidance inferred that “all work will eventually be marked”, but gives no indication of when this will be completed. Whilst some exams have not been marked in their entirety, some exams and coursework (such as CREW203 and LEC282) have been marked for half the cohort, but not the other half.

For Part I students, the guidance indicates they do not need to achieve a “majorable pass” in their major subject, and students will be able to progress if they have 33 per cent “of the total assessment for that module”. If those marks indicate a fail, then students will be asked to complete an uncapped resit of the assessment. It also informs that “original exams will be marked once the boycott has ended”, and the university’s no detriment policy stands. However, if a student resits an exam and their original exam mark is higher, they “will get the higher of the two marks”.

For Part I students who do not have the 33 per cent of marks for a module, the university said it “will need to defer your progression decision until the summer”.

For Part II students, the guidance follows that if the marks they receive “are passing and amount to at least 33 per cent of the total assessment for the module, [the university] will aim to pass [them] on the basis of these marks”. However, if the marks for a module are passing but amount to less than 33 per cent, then “progression will be deferred until later in the summer”. Later in the guidance it states that students with less than 33 per cent of a module’s marks will be “allowed to proceed to the next year of study, and eventually, all work will be marked”. 

Any resits required will be sat later this academic year, rather than the May/June 2024 exam period.

When asked for their opinions on the issues on results day, students said they felt the situation is “not very fair”. A third year chemistry student feels it’s not “very fair” that their degree is “now unaccredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry” due to the MAB.

Another student, although grateful for the university’s no detriment policy, feels they “could have dedicated more time to the assessments and exams that have been marked rather than spending time working for something that will have no impact on [their] grade unless it’s higher than [their] existing overall mark”.

Lancaster UCU said: “We are deeply grateful for the support of our brilliant students, and we stand by to support them in every way possible”.

A spokesperson for Lancaster University said: “We can confirm that every student will have the opportunity to progress to the next year or to graduate, and no one will be prevented from doing so purely based on delayed marks. Please check the student portal for guidance.”

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Since the story was published, updated guidance about progression was issued from the university and is available on the student portal.