Marking boycott will hit nine London universities and may impact graduation

These unis might also see ten more days of strikes this term

On 26th April, UCU confirmed a marking boycott “in the coming months” at 41 universities over pay and working conditions, including nine in London. Staff at these London unis have also voted in favour of ten more days of strikes this term, with exact dates for both the boycott and the strikes to be decided on 12th May.

The newest action will not impact any teaching and support activities, but it will mean delayed grades and feedback on assignments and disruptions to exams as participating staff will not be invigilating or marking them. This action, in which “students could be left without grades with some unable to graduate,” has already been taking place at Goldsmiths since the start of this month.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady thinks the boycott is the “only way to secure the long term future of the sector” and said that the union is “taking this action on behalf of all university staff and students.”

The decision to escalate their action with a marking boycott was backed by 85.9 per cent of UCU members across the UK during a vote earlier this month.

Citing how inflation devalues staff pay and minority pay gaps, they persist in their demands for a £2.5k pay rise for all staff and an end to all pay gaps, insecure contracts, and unmanageable workloads.

In response to uni bosses at the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), who have, according to the UCU, “so far refused to make any improved offers” on these issues, the union confirmed boycotts at these London unis:

1. Birkbeck, U of L

2. Goldsmiths, U of L

3. University of Greenwich

4. KCL


6. Royal College of Art

7. SOAS, U of L

8. UAL

9. University of Westminster

Jo Grady, UCU’s general secretary, said the boycott “reflects [UCU members’] justifiable anger at university vice-chancellors who continue to ignore their concerns whilst drawing over-inflated salaries and hoarding billions in reserves.

“University staff have been clear that many simply cannot contemplate staying in higher education whilst wages fall, workloads rise, and nothing is done to address the rampant use of insecure contracts or shocking equality failings. Vice-chancellors should be ashamed of this record, but rather than solve this dispute they have become more intransigent than ever.

“Students and staff alike deserve so much better,” she said.

These disruptions are also only related to the pay and working conditions disputes; UCU members of unis involved in the USS dispute over pension cuts are expected to meet on 27th April to “decide next steps” in their action.

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Students will have lost an entire month of teaching to the strikes this year