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26th April 2023

UCU marking and assessment boycott: Everything you need to know

Strikes continue into the 2022/23 academic year, with the UCU now pursuing a marking boycott, affecting most universities across the UK. But, what does this mean exactly?
UCU marking and assessment boycott: Everything you need to know
Photo: Shikhar Talwar @ The Mancunion

On April 20, the University and Colleges Union (UCU) commenced a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) involving staff at 145 universities across the UK, including the University of Manchester.

The boycott means that UCU members employed by the universities involved in the dispute will cease marking all summative assessments, a move expected to impact graduations. 

The marking and assessment boycott covers all forms of assessment, including written, verbal, and online assessments. The boycott also covers assessment-related work, such as exam invigilation. 

The boycott was announced after UCU members voted to reject the employers’ pay and conditions proposal. According to the UCU, the rejected proposal failed to improve on previous offers.

Though members voted to reject the pay and conditions proposal, 85% of members voted to accept a deal on the pension dispute.

The rejected proposal offered a commitment to consultation on ending zero-hours contracts and further negotiations on tackling casualisation, closing equality pay gaps, and reducing workloads.

The proposal also included a pay award of between 5% and 8% made earlier this year. The union advised its members to vote against the proposal as it did not go far enough in resolving the ‘four fights’: pay, casualisation, workloads, and equality. 

In response to the marking and assessment boycott, a number of universities, such as SOAS and Oxford Brookes, have announced that they will deduct 100% of the wages of those participating in the boycott.

UoM has announced that they will ‘withhold pay at 50% of normal salary for colleagues who are taking part in the marking and assessment boycott’. 

Two universities, London Met and Ulster, are not imposing a pay deduction for the MAB.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady released a statement on April 20 decrying the wage deductions as ‘immoral’ before restating that ‘[t]he employers can end this now’ by tabling a renewed offer on pay and working conditions. 

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