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How will it affect you? The assessment boycott explained

Protesters outside King's College Strand entrance, inset: UCU logo

UNIONISED lecturers at King’s may refuse to mark students’ work from 28 April as part of nationwide industrial action over pay.

This comes after a long dispute between the University and College Union (UCU) and the national employers’ association (UCEA) failed to reach a solution.

A protest is planned for 24 April and negotiations are ongoing, but how will it affect you? Will your exams still be marked? Can third years graduate? Roar!‘s on hand to explain all:

What is the assessment boycott?

A marking boycott would mean that King’s lecturers who are UCU members would refuse to carry out marking tasks.

This would continue indefinitely until a pay agreement is reached. Lecturers would, however, continue to teach, take seminars and set work.

Why are our lecturers thinking about taking this action?

The boycott is the result of an ongoing pay dispute between the UCU and the University and College Employers Association (UCEA). The union has rejected a 1% pay rise, saying that since 2009 its members have seen a real-term pay cut between 13 and 15%.

I’m a King’s student, will I be affected?

Potentially. King’s students submitting coursework, examinations, dissertations and other formal assessments to these lecturers after April 28th wouldn’t have their work marked.

All students could potentially be affected: since degrees are made up of multiple modules and assessments, it would take just one lecturer taking part in the boycott to cause disruption. However, it’s unclear how many UCU members would join the boycott.

Could this stop me from graduating at the usual time?

Yes. The marking boycott could leave students unable to obtain marks for their final assignments. This could therefore leave students waiting longer to graduate this summer. However, this would be part of a nationwide boycott, so King’s students would not be disadvantaged in comparison to other graduating students.

Can the boycott still be avoided?

Yes. UCU claims that it has been forced into this action after six strikes have failed to bring concessions from UCEA. However, the boycott will not come into force until 28 April, so up until that date there is still time for negotiations to work out a solution.

Has a marking boycott occurred before?

Yes. A marking boycott was called for in 2006 by two unions who became the UCU. It led to three months of unmarked work. The action forced university bosses into concessions, although not on the scale that was demanded. It was called off just in time to ensure graduations were on time.

What is the King’s students’ union’s (KCLSU’s) position on the marking boycott?

Last month the union’s Student General Meeting voted to support lecturers in the dispute and to put pressure on the UCEA and the senior management at King’s to support the lecturers’ cause. Students have signed a petition calling on the KCL senior management to secure a fairer pay deal and avoid the boycott.

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