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Marking and assessment boycott to hit 145 UK universities from tomorrow

19 April 2023

UCU has today confirmed that a marking and assessment boycott will commence tomorrow [Thursday 20 April] at 145 UK universities after employers failed to produce an improved offer in the pay & conditions dispute.

Earlier this week, UCU members working in UK higher education voted to reject pay & conditions proposals agreed with employers.  

A marking and assessment boycott will cover all marking and assessment, including that in writing, online, or verbally. The boycott will also cover any assessment-related work such as exam invigilation and the administrative processing of marks. This is expected to impact graduations. 

A number of university employers have already announced that they will make wage deductions of up to 100% for staff taking part in the boycott, despite staff continuing to teach, lecture and support students as normal. The union has condemned the threats and said further strike action could be called in response.

The boycott will continue until employers make an improved offer, at which point UCU will decide whether to continue the action or call it off. 

In the pensions dispute, the union will now move forward proposals with employers to restore benefits after 85% of UCU members voted in favour during a recent consultation. UCU has been clear, however, that it retains the right to take action if employers backtrack.

Last month, UCU successfully renewed its industrial action mandate, allowing industrial action to be called for a further six months. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady, said:

'Ample opportunity has been given for employers to improve their offer in the pay & conditions dispute, but they have refused and now a historic marking and assessment boycott will begin at 145 universities. Staff have been crystal clear that they are worth more than what has been put on the table and now bosses need to wake up and prevent widespread disruption hitting graduations. 

'We never wanted to be in this position, but for over a decade pay has been held down and conditions attacked. Those who run our universities only have themselves to blame, but rather than resolve the disputes they are instead threatening to take 100% of wages from staff who are still performing the majority of their duties. It is disgraceful and vindictive behaviour.

'Our message to students is this: we do not want this boycott to go on any longer than it needs to but the status quo cannot continue. Please contact your vice chancellor and tell them to get back around the table with a fair offer.' 

The institutions affected are listed here under the 'pay and conditions' column. 

Last updated: 26 April 2023