credit: Rosie Hampton

Glasgow break graduation guarantee

By Luke Chafer

Whilst UofG promised that no student would be delayed from graduating this is not true for PhD students. 

University guaranteed that “no student would be delayed from graduating” amidst the ongoing UCU marking and assessment boycott however The Glasgow Guardian can reveal that this is not the case for all PhD students. 

Jade Saab a PhD student at the University of Glasgow and Graduate Teaching Assistant who is also taking part in the marking boycott himself, is one of those affected. He said that: “Marking and assessment boycott (MAB) has been called as a result of the university’s and the employer’s association it is a voting member of failure to meet workers’ demands or successfully negotiate a resolution to a dispute which has been going on for more than three years now. The cancellation of my viva, and any impact the MAB will have on other students, is entirely the responsibility of university management and a reflection of their unwillingness to provide fair working conditions for their staff.”

“There’s been no word from the university about when the viva will be rescheduled for. Considering the preparation that is required by examiners, they need to read more than 80,000-word dissertations to be ready to ask questions about it, I imagine it can take months. The university has also offered no form of support.”

READ MORE: Casualisation of staff contracts on the rise at UofG – The Glasgow Guardian

“The cancellation of my viva has had serious implications on my immediate future. From my ability to apply to jobs, since most require a completed degree, to casting doubt on my graduation date, which will probably be pushed to December forcing my family, who live outside of the UK, to go through the whole visa application process again. This is not to mention the mental toll and anxiety this has produced.”

 After raising this with the University and providing details of the student’s case a University spokesperson said that: “We are aware of one person who has experienced a delay to their PhD viva due to the national marking and assessment boycott. We are working with them and their School to put in place alternative arrangements.”

The University of Glasgow sent an email to all students on 14th April saying that “no student will be prevented from progressing to the next stage of their degree or graduating, because of industrial action.” 

This guidance has since been updated on May 17th with the Clerk of Senate Martin Hendry saying “We expect that in most parts of the University, the marking of exams and assessments will be unaffected, but in a small number of Schools there is potential for the impact of the boycott to be more significant.”

“We expect that no student will be prevented from progressing to the next stage of their degree or graduating, because of the industrial action. In some cases, however, there may be a delay in the release of marks and feedback for students’ assessments.”

Mary Senior, Scotland official UCU, said: “This action short of strike is targeted at university principals’ failure to address the fall in pay, unsafe workloads and the pay inequality in universities.  Our members are educators and teaching and supporting students is precisely why they came into the profession, the last thing they want to do is disrupt exams, assessments and graduations. Rather than trying to resolve this dispute university principals are now threatening punitive pay deductions.  The blame for any disruption lies squarely with them.  Our door is open.  Rather than trying to find ways to circumvent the marking and assessment boycott and punish staff, employers need to come back to the negotiating table with an improved offer which is acceptable to university staff.”


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