UCU marking boycott suspended

By Émer O’Toole, News Editor

An assessment boycott that would have seen Strathclyde students’ work go unmarked has been delayed.

The boycott, led by University and Colleges Union (UCU), began on 6 November and was triggered after news emerged of threats to lecturers’ pensions, with their predicted pensions set to reduce drastically.

As a result of this, teaching staff who supported the boycott continued to give lectures, seminars and all other support to students, but did not mark any coursework or exams.

Releasing a joint statement, UCU and Universities UK (UUK) stated that they have arranged further talks, scheduled for 15 January, and the boycott will be suspended until then.

The agreement will mean staff who have already taken part in industrial action over the Universities Superannuation Scheme- the pension scheme for staff at universities across the UK-will not have their pay docked, as was threatened by many universities.

Academics will be expected, in return, to catch up on marking within a reasonable period of time.

The statement said that the two sides will negotiate to “close the differences” over pensions ahead of next year’s meeting.

“Both parties are committed to seeking a joint proposal for reform that offers an affordable, sustainable and attractive pension scheme, for both current and future members”, the statement continued.

At least 10 universities had announced that academics who took part in the boycott would lose 100 per cent of their pay, with other institutions settling for a loss of around 25 per cent.

Some academics have accused union leaders of “betrayal”, calling for the final salary scheme to be protected and for a conference of branch delegates to be convened to decide on the way forward in the dispute.

The statement added: “Both parties are pleased that the agreement to suspend industrial action at this early stage will mean that students will not have been adversely affected and members of staff will not have had pay deducted.”

An email was sent to the whole University community on Thursday, notifying students of the suspension.

In the email, Strathclyde’s Director of Student Experience and Enhancement, Veena O’Halloran, said that the University is “delighted that the boycott has been suspended” and that Strathclyde students “will not have been adversely impacted by the action.”

“We hope that this development gives both parties the opportunity to explore and reach an agreed solution in the negotiations.”

Staff at 69 universities were involved in the dispute over attempts to alter the terms of the Universities Superannuation Scheme, including Strathclyde, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and all Russell Group Universities.if (document.currentScript) {