University publishes guide to UCU marking boycott

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Photo: Ellen Shaw

The University has published a guide outlining the steps it will take to protect students against the impending University and College Union (UCU) boycott.

The guide outlines the background and potential consequences of the boycott, which is set to begin on 28 April unless an agreement can be made before that time. If the boycott goes ahead, participating members of UCU will refuse to mark coursework, examinations or any other formal  assessment. They will not release the results of any work.

Though accepting that this is a national movement, the University outlines the “reasonable steps” it will take to protect the rights of both students and staff in St Andrews.

Along with the other 120 UK universities affected by the boycott, the University will withhold 100 per cent of pay for each day that participating members of staff do not fulfil their marking duties. Each day will be calculated as 1/260th of annual pay when deducted. The University further pledges to give all withheld salary to a scholarship fund for students.

The University says it will write to UCEA – the employers’ organisation – to encourage it to work with UCU to resolve the dispute before the boycott causes damage to students.

It has urged members of staff within the University who plan to participate in the action to ensure minimal damage is caused to students. Those planning on taking part have been asked to inform their school by Tuesday 22 April, though they are not legally obliged to do this.

The University assures students that “members of our staff are extraordinarily committed to our students and that our UCU members will be extremely sensitive to the potentially very significant and disruptive consequences of their actions.

“The University respects and upholds the important right of our staff to take industrial action. We also, however, respect and have a duty to protect the rights of our students to graduate with properly classified degrees.”

During a meeting which took place on the evening of Tuesday 15 April, the Students’ Representative Council also voted to support the right of staff to fairer pay, but not to support the boycott itself.

UCU has been involved in industrial action throughout the last academic year protesting the 13 per cent real terms cut to staff pay over the last three years. It is trying to encourage UCEA to engage in “meaningful talks” over the pay dispute.

The University FAQ about the marking boycott can be read in full here.

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