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Industrial action update – 12 May 2023

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We would like to provide you with an update on the marking and assessment boycott initiated by The University and College Union (UCU) on Thursday, 20 April as part of their Action Short of Strike (ASOS). 

We understand that this situation may be causing concern, but we want to reassure you that we are committed to doing absolutely everything we can to minimise the impact of the boycott on students.

Why is this happening?

The marking and assessment boycott is about pay and working conditions. Pay is being negotiated at a national level, which means we can’t act alone on this issue. We have offered to enter discussions with our local unions about how we can improve employment contracts and working conditions, including the use of fixed term contracts and reducing pay gaps. These local discussions have already begun.

We do recognise the impact of the increased cost of living on our staff, so even though national pay negotiations weren’t able to reach a collective agreement with UCU this year, university employers have provided pay uplifts to all our staff. This ranged from 8% for the lowest paid staff, to 5% and is in addition to the increments that about half our staff receive annually. As well as the cost of living payments we made to students this year, we also made one-off payments to all colleagues except the Senior Leadership Team, totalling many millions of pounds.

How will I be affected?

Most of our students will not be affected at all.

Not all University staff are members of the UCU, and not all members will participate in ASOS. We expect that the impact of this action will vary across the University and will be very limited in most areas.

All exams and assessments will proceed as planned*. It is important that you continue to submit all assessed work by the deadline and attend all examinations on the published dates. Please be aware that normal penalties will apply to assignments that are not submitted on time.

For those who are affected, you will still receive marks/feedback and our focus is on minimising any impact and delay. Measures are being put in place to prioritise progression to the next level of your studies or graduation this summer.

I’m a final year student. Will this delay the award of my degree?

As a final year student, you may be concerned about any potential delays in receiving your degree. Priority will be given to graduating students in terms of result publication. If there are any changes or delays in the expected timeline, we will inform you at the earliest possible date.

What is the University doing to mitigate the impact of the marking and assessment boycott on students?

Above all, we are focussed on maintaining the integrity of our awards and supporting you to receive the assessment outcome you have worked so hard for. University groups are working together at pace to explore various options, policies, and processes to ensure contingencies are in place. 

Next steps

As the impact of the ASOS becomes clearer, we will provide updates on Student News and your Faculty or School leadership team will email you with any specific impacts to your course.

For more information, please see our Strike action: information for students page.

*Each year there are a very small number of exceptions, and in these cases your School will contact you directly with as much notice as possible.

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