Update about the UCU marking and assessment boycott

Update about the UCU marking and assessment boycott

The marking and assessment boycott by members of the University and College Union (UCU) began in April, and affects more than 140 UK higher education institutions, including Cambridge.

UCU members are taking part in the boycott because the Union is in dispute with the body that conducts pay and conditions negotiations on behalf of 144 institutions, an organisation called the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).

On 16 June, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr Anthony Freeling, wrote to all University staff to ask them to do all they can to protect our students from the impact of the boycott and to help finalists to graduate. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Professor Bhaskar Vira, also wrote to students to update them on the boycott, outline how the University is helping students, and explain the current situation in the national dispute. Two task forces are supporting Cambridge staff and Departments by giving detailed advice on specific issues relating to examinations and assessment, while maintaining academic standards.

For our students, we have approved the release of provisional marks where these exist, to help provide some evidence of academic attainment to prospective employers or for further study. The University is running a dedicated helpdesk to respond to queries and concerns about the boycott. Advice for students is also available from their College Director of Studies and Tutor.

University management have also tried to encourage an end to the national dispute. In May, the Acting Vice-Chancellor wrote a joint letter with the local UCU branch president calling for the employers’ organisation to resume negotiations with the national union, the UCU. Very few other institutions have taken this step. We want to see the dispute resolved through negotiation as soon as possible.