Goldsmiths UCU announces a marking and assessment boycott

The boycott could have serious impacts on graduating students

Goldsmiths’ UCU (GUCU) announced a marking and assessment boycott set to begin on Monday, 4th April in response to the senior management team (SMT)’s plan to make 46 staff redundant on 13th April.

This comes after the uni has been hit by three rounds of strikes this year, a global academic boycott, students not paying fees in protest, and open letters with as many as 3,000+ signatures.

During the action, teaching and support will continue, but students should expect a delay in receiving their grades on any form of assessment and any feedback through platforms such as Turnitin. This also means that participating staff will not be invigilating assessments or taking part in any work relating to exams.

In a statement to students, GUCU said: “We want this action to hit SMT, not students.

“In order to do this, GUCU members are committed to providing ongoing support to students throughout the action. This will mean that GUCU members will be responsive to students’ individual circumstances and will take all action possible within the bounds of the boycott to ensure that no students face detriment.”

In order to minimise the impact on students, GUCU have decided on supplementary measures, such as informal feedback and ensuring that students receive their grades if they require them for important reasons – i.e. international students will be receiving their grades if their visas depend on it.

Via @goldsmithssu on Instagram

Proceeding with a grading boycott will severely impact graduating students if the uni’s SMT do not reconsider firing staff and responding adequately to GUCU’s demands by 15th July.

GUCU continued to say that they “believe that students should not have to pay for management’s intransigence and we stand in full solidarity with students who have requested refunds and taken action to protest management’s plans.

“Our position is that the College should put in place full mitigation to acknowledge the teaching time that has been lost unnecessarily due to SMT’s intransigence throughout the year.”

As a consequence, they are demanding the following things on behalf of students:

A clear plan for how assessment grading will be altered to take into account teaching time lost;

Automatic extenuating circumstances for all students and no penalties for late submission and deferral;

Full refunds for all students who have lost teaching time due to strikes.

As a response to these, a Goldsmiths spokesperson told The London Tab that they “will consider partial refunds as a way of compensating students who lose learning opportunities as a result of strike action or Action Short of a Strike if appropriate mitigation could not be put in place.

“Over the next few weeks we will be working closely with individual departments to develop an approach to assessments that remains fair.”

But this situation isn’t only impacting students: many staff have decided to leave Goldsmiths, resulting in what some called “mass resignations of academics.” Lecturers have taken to social media to share their grief and disappointment:

There has also been claims that the cuts disproportionately impact staff teaching marginalised subject matter such as Queer and Black studies, with some claiming that the courses might be eliminated.

In response to the situation in general, a Goldsmiths spokesperson told The London Tab: “The reality is Goldsmiths needs to save £9m in ongoing spend by 2023 to put the College back on a sustainable financial footing.

“There are no viable alternative proposals which would deliver these savings. Consequently, a number of staff remain at risk of redundancy. We will continue to support and advise those affected and work to minimise the number of redundancies across the College.

“The proposals set out in our Academic Portfolio Review do not include the immediate closure of any courses currently being taught and include continuing to teach Creative Writing, Black British and Caribbean literature, Black British History and Queer Studies.”

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