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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

'Vast majority' of students not affected by marking boycott, University says

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

UCU Aberdeen members to be docked 50% of pay over 'potentially severe' boycott


By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco


This afternoon, the University released information to staff and students about tomorrow's marking and assessment boycott (MAB), the latest escalation of industrial action by academic union UCU over pay and pension disputes.


In an email to students, Vice-Principal for Education Ruth Taylor remarked that most UoA students would not be affected by the boycott.


She said: 'Please remember that not all staff belong to UCU and that many students will not be affected. You should continue to study and prepare for your exams or other assessments that are scheduled according to the published deadlines.'


'Our priority is to ensure you receive your marks and feedback and that you progress to the next stage of study or graduate as expected,' Taylor commented. 'We are doing all we can to make that happen.'


Taylor told students that Heads of Schools will be in contact with those whose assessments will be affected by the boycott.


The email also linked to an extensive FAQ sheet with information relating to the possible effects of the boycott on graduations and exams.


According to the sheet, exams will go ahead as planned, as will graduation. If a student hasn't received their marks before the ceremony, they will be allowed to participate but will be sent their degree certificate once their work is marked.


A University spokesperson echoed Taylor's comments, telling The Gaudie: 'The marking and assessment boycott is part of a national dispute and we are making every effort to minimise disruption for our students, the majority of whom will not be impacted.'


'We have advised students that they should keep studying for their exams and assessments as scheduled and we are doing all we can to ensure they receive the marks and feedback needed to progress to either their next stage of study or graduation.'


However, while the University's message to students was decidedly upbeat, members of staff received a less positive email from senior management.


Senior Vice Principal Karl Leydecker told staff that those engaged in the boycott had breached their contract.


He said: 'Whilst we accept that UCU members are legally entitled to participate in the action, we are concerned at the potentially severe impact that a marking and assessment boycott may have on our students.'


Leydecker continued, informing staff that those engaged in the MAB would be docked 50% of their pay until marking resumed.


He commented: 'The University has decided that pay will be deducted from those participating in the marking and assessment boycott at the rate of 50%, whilst reserving the right to deduct pay based on 100%. This is in recognition of the severity of the impact of a marking and assessment boycott on students.'


Responding to the decision in an email circulated among members, UCU Aberdeen blasted the pay cut, labelling it as 'a punitive measure that is out of line with many in the sector.'


The Aberdeen branch also noted they welcomed management's decision to meet with members weekly throughout the boycott, and hoped that a 'kinder solution' could be reached.


The marking and assessment boycott will begin tomorrow; Thursday, 20 April.

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