Marking boycott over pensions dispute will start in November

Photo: Ellen Shaw

Academics at the University of St Andrews will participate in a marking boycott over a pensions row. The boycott will begin on 6 November and will only end when the demands of the University and College Union (UCU) are met.

The boycott will stop students being set coursework or receiving formal marks and feedback, as well as halting exams.

Nine universities in Scotland are taking part in this industrial action. It has been inspired by changes to pension schemes which the UCU believe to be unfair. These changes are understood to have been prompted by an expected deficit faced by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

Dr Chris Hooley, President of the St Andrews UCU branch, said: “Naturally all UCU members regret the inevitable disruption to students that is caused by a boycott of the setting and marking of assessed work. However, we know from history that such boycotts are the form of action that influences the universities most quickly, and in the face of such a grievous attack on our terms and conditions of work that kind of quick influence is needed here.

“We hope that students will understand and support our industrial action, and that a reasonable settlement on the future of USS will be reached before too long.”

This recent announcement of industrial action comes after members of the University and College Union (UCU) voted overwhelmingly in support of industrial action. 78 per cent of those who voted in the recent ballot supported strikes, while 87 per cent were in favour of action short of walkouts, which includes the boycott.

A spokesperson for the University said: “It is widely known that the USS Scheme, like many others, is facing a considerable deficit. A recovery plan has to be agreed. It is our belief that all parties should be working together to address the underlying issues.”

“The University is determined to minimise the risk of disruption to students, and will take all reasonable steps to mitigate the impact of any strike action.”

The St Andrews UCU branch participated in two strikes in October and December last year over a pay dispute. A marking boycott was also set to take place in April 2014 but was cancelled after a settlement was agreed with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association for a 2 per cent pay increase.


  1. Great!, perhaps we could have a tuition discount for those days ?
    The Union should reimburse us for these days – we are paying for services we will not be receiving, but of course they never consider that..

  2. Shut up, Lambo. This is an issue bigger than yourself. While I don’t like the idea of the impact on studies as I, along with other students, are preparing for exams, the bigger picture is that I care about the university’s retention of our fantastic professors, and enjoy being taught by them. Unless they receive fair terms on their half of the arrangement, they may start looking at universities to work at elsewhere. Plus, you know; they’re people, too.


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