University discusses precautionary measures to pre-empt marking boycott

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In yesterday’s meeting of Senate, the University announced a number of measures they plan to take should the UCU marking boycott go ahead after their ballot on Tuesday, Week 3. The latest drama in the conflict over pay involves the University deciding that they must plan how to deal with the looming reality that should the boycott go ahead, many students – notably final years due to graduate in July – may find themselves without a degree mark until the conflict reaches a resolution.

[quote]many students may find themselves without a degree mark[/quote]

In the recently published minutes from Senate held Wednesday, Week 2, it is stated that the proposed adjustments are similar to that approved by Senate in May 2006 and 2009, presumably when the UCU last threatened to strike over pay. The measures are intended to reduce what the University deems to be “the likely detrimental impact on students should the boycott go ahead.” The University acknowledges that should the staff strike, they have a “legal and moral obligation” to reduce the adverse effects of industrial action upon students, as well as acknowledging the potential consequences of dong nothing. It is noted that “some students will be unable to graduate or to proceed to the next stage of their programme of study” and also stated that by failing to address these potential issues, the University faces potential legal action for breaching their contract with students and damage to their reputation.

The proposed measures intended to minimise the impact decree that should the boycott go ahead, provisional marks will be awarded to students – so long as they continue to submit any relevant course work and sit their exams. If work is not marked due to industrial action, the Standing Academic Committee will endeavour to award students provisional grades, based on their previous academic performance, to ensure that students can still graduate or progress. Once the conflict is resolved and the missing marks become available, they will be entered into the marks profile and the overall results will be recalculated. This is contingent upon students submitting their work and exams as normal. However, the University have decided that if a student who has already been awarded a degree with a provisional classification achieves higher marks on their previously ungraded work, they will be awarded the higher class. If a student receives lower marks and therefore a lower class of degree, the University will allow these students to keep the provisional classification awarded to them.

The latest update comes after unrest over the Easter break, when Human Resources sent a letter to all University staff stating that if they participate in the strikes, they are only partially fulfilling their contract and therefore will not be paid. Lancaster University Students’ Union will be meeting tonight, in Management School Lecture Theatre 3 at 6pm, to discuss whether or not the Union should continue to support the industrial action, with representatives from UCU invited to speak. All students are welcome to attend Council and are strongly encouraged to do so.

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