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UCU concerned over pay dispute degree marks

21 September 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

UCU has expressed its concerns over a story in today's <em>Times Higher Education Supplement</em> which has revealed that Liverpool University has seen a major increase in the proportion of firsts and upper second degrees awarded.

The university implemented contingency plans during this year's nationwide pay dispute to try and enable students to graduate on time, whether or not they had completed their full degree.

A resolution to the dispute was reached in early June to enable students to graduate properly either on time or with minimal delay. The story in the Times Higher reveals that Liverpool University did not revert back to normal marking procedures.

Commenting on the story, UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We said at the time that universities ran the risk of compromising their own, and Britain's, standing in the academic world with hastily cooked up contingency plans. Our concerns were echoed by a number of professional bodies, as well as the students themselves.

'Our aim in the dispute was to address the shockingly low levels of academic pay. It was never to call the standard of degrees into question or to harm students. At the time we said some employers seemed more interested in hurting staff and students than ending the dispute or upholding their academic values. We worked hard to secure a resolution that allowed all students to graduate either on time or with minimal delay.

'I will be extremely concerned if it does come to light that some institutions did not bother to wait for the full marks to become available before awarding degrees, and I am sure that students, their parents and anyone with an interest in academe will share my concerns.'