Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB)
Following ongoing disruption from industrial action over spring term, we learned that UCU is calling on members to join a marking and assessment boycott which has started on Thursday 20th April, and it may last up to 6 months. The UCU had balloted for a new strike during the month of March, following months of ongoing discussions with the employers. UCU have provided further guidance about their position here.
What is MAB?
A marking and assessment boycott is a form of Action Short of Strike (ASOS), where members of the union only work to contract, only working to rule and not doing any overtime. However, when participating in MAB, staff will also withhold any marking duties.
This is likely to impact students in different ways, from undergraduates who may be anxious about the potential impact on assessment decisions, to doctoral students who are employed as Associate Tutors who may be considering participating in this and understanding the implications of having pay withheld.
Whilst we understand UCU members will not have taken this decision lightly, we remain frustrated that no decision between the UCEA (University and College Employer Association), which represents the universities, and UCU has been reached, and we encourage both sides to negotiate a fair agreement.
Impact of MAB
At this stage it is too early to assess the potential impact; the University does not know how many staff will take part, for how long, or to what extent. The SU has worked with the university to create regulations to help minimise the impact of the boycott on your studies, and particularly allowing final year students to graduate without delay.
What does the regulation change?
The policy gives the university flexibility to hold exam, classification and progression boards more flexibly, pulling qualified members of staff from across the university to areas which might be experiencing higher level of disruption. In addition, it allows the boards to go ahead if members of the board cannot make it to the meeting, given they had the opportunity to review the evidence and feedback to the chair, as well as notify them of their absence well in advance.
The policy also allows the university to calculate your predicted grades based on averages of grades achieved within the course so far, or in case there were no marked assessments then using 60 of the highest credit modules throughout to year to award an average predicted grade for the missing assessment. This means you can never be disadvantaged by a piece of assessment that has not been marked. We are in conversations with the university to guarantee if your unmarked assessment is later found to improve your grade to be retrospectively adjusted.
It is important that even if you will be affected by the marking and assessment boycott, you need to turn in all components of your assessments.
To find out more about the new regulations and how it can support you in your situation head over to the university website. The university has created a range of FAQs you might also find helpful. Click here to look at the Industrial Strike FAQs.
This webpage has been put together to provide information on UCU Industrial Action. This includes updates on the dispute, as well as frequently asked questions including the work your SU is doing to support you.
What does Industrial Action & Striking mean?
Industrial Action is a dispute between the employer the employee where no mutual agreement has been reached. There are many forms of Industrial Actions, from working to rule (not undertaking additional task), to Striking. Strike is where employee withdraw their labour, in simple terms strike action as a sign of a protest, until better working conditions are achieved. The staff on strikes do not receive pay during the days they are on strike.
Who are UCU and why are they striking?
- UCU is the University and College Union, the trade union for academic and academic-related staff in Further and Higher Education. UCU organises nationally but has local branches. These include some of your lecturers, professors and supervisors, as well as some administrators, library and IT support staff. The ballot to strike was voted on nationally, so every University will be taking industrial action.
- UCU is striking over pay, pensions and working conditions. Staff pay has declined by 14% in the past decade and they have been offered a 3% pay increase, which represents a further cut to pay given the current rate of inflation.
February & March 2023 Strikes
UCU have announced that more than 70,000 staff at 150 universities across the UK will strike for 18 days between February and March in continued disputes over pay, conditions, and pensions. The dates of the planned action can be viewed below:
- Week 1 - Wednesday 1 February
- Week 2 - Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February
- Week 3 - Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February
- Week 4 - Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 February
- Week 5 - Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 February and Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 March
- [No action week commencing Monday 6 March]
- Week 7 - Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March
- Week 8 - Monday 20, Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March
UCU will also be reballoting its members to extend the union's mandate and allow staff to take further action from April onwards, potentially extending return dates of your final grades for the year.
This is a national action that impacts all universities not just Cardiff Met.
We are already speaking to senior staff members at the University about the strikes and are committed to represent your views and support you with mitigating the impact on your overall Student Experience.
The University does not anticipate this will affect majority of the students, but the SU understands the impact will be varied across the programmes.
We plan to give regular updates on the strikes and have answered a range of questions below.
Your Rights as a Student
- The university should be proactive in resolving issues related to missed teaching. If teaching time is lost, it may be appropriate for catch-up teaching to be offered at a later time, missed course content to be delivered in a different way.
- The university should take steps to ensure that students are not disadvantaged in assessment by any disruption. It might be appropriate for coursework deadlines to be extended or moved, or for certain topics to not be examined if they have not been delivered in time.
- The university should explain clearly any changes made to how the course is delivered and how they will affect students. The university should keep students informed of the impact of ongoing disruption and give students reasonable notice of any new arrangements.
- University should consider the needs of all students in responding to industrial action, particularly those who may have difficulties accessing replacement learning.
If you have concerns about how the strikes are affecting your education, you should contact your course rep who can bring this up at their Student-Staff Liaison Committee meetings, or with relevant staff members. Additionally, you can speak to your President – Venky Gonavaram (email@example.com) or your Vice-President - Natalia-Mia Roach (firstname.lastname@example.org) who are in conversations with the university senior managements about support our students.
If you wish to ask advice about how to apply for mitigating circumstances, you can get in touch with our SU Advice Services at email@example.com
I am an international student, and I have to meet attendance for my Visa. How does it affect me?
The home office confirms that if an “expected contact” such as a lecture, seminar or individual supervisory discussion can’t go ahead because of the industrial action, this should not be recorded as an unauthorised absence.