Students at five London unis might not graduate as marking boycotts go ahead on Monday

The actions have been ‘postponed’ at KCL, Birkbeck, SOAS, and the University of Greenwich


UCU announced that marking boycotts will go ahead on Monday, 23th May, at 21 UK unis, with five in London. This comes after their April announcement that boycotts might hit 41 UK unis and nine London ones.

The boycotts mean participating staff will not grade coursework or invigilate exams. The union claims over 10,000 students’ graduations across the country could be disrupted by this as they might not receive their final marks.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The marking boycott is a last resort for staff who feel like they have no other choice. We urge vice-chancellors to use the sector’s huge financial reserves to resolve the dispute and avoid any further disruption.”

The five London unis to be hit by boycotts from Monday are:

1. Goldsmiths, U of L

2. QMUL 

3. Royal College of Art

4. UAL

5. University of Westminster

The other four unis included in the previous announcement – KCL, Birkbeck, SOAS, and Uni of Greenwich – “have decided to postpone their boycott but will continue with other forms of action short of strike.”

UCU claims the boycotts are happening “despite ‘lock out’ threats” that include “rogue bosses” threatening to dock 100 per cent of pay for participating staff and QMUL’s management allegedly trying to hire external workers from Australia to grade students’ work.

Jo Grady said: “Our members choose to work in universities because they love working with and supporting students, and no staff member is taking this action lightly. But cuts to pensions, low pay, insecure contracts and exhausting workloads have pushed staff to breaking point.

“Any vice chancellor who is considering locking out staff participating in a lawful boycott needs to think again, this will only further poison relations between staff and management and could lead to further disruption. Likewise, any university threatening to bus in external workers to mark work they know nothing about needs to stop now or risk doing lasting damage to the value of its degrees.”

The boycotts come after students across the UK have already seen up to 18 days of strikes this year over pension cuts, fair pay, and better working conditions.

A recent Instagram poll by The Tab found that nearly three in four students no longer support striking lecturers after marking boycotts were announced.

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