Credit: University of Glasgow

Extent of marking boycott revealed

By Odhran Gallagher

Data seen by The Glasgow Guardian has revealed the true extent of the marking assessment boycott.

At least 606 students graduated from the University of Glasgow without a degree classification last term, The Glasgow Guardian can reveal following a freedom of information request. The subject area with the highest number of students unable to graduate was Common Law, with a total of 66 false graduates. This was followed by Zoology at 42, and English Literature at 37. 

Because of the nature of data protection, the exact number could not be disclosed for courses where the total was less than five. Therefore, the true total number could potentially be as high as over 1,000.

Following a marking and assessment boycott last term, as part of industrial action taken by the University and College Union (UCU), the University chose to go ahead with summer graduations even in cases where students’ work had not been fully marked and they couldn’t graduate with a classified degree. Some students have still, as of September, not received classifications for their degrees.

The University of Glasgow sent an email to all students on 14 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 was then updated on 17 May 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, UCU Scotland Official, said: “This [marking and assessment boycott] is targeted at university principals’ failure to address the fall in pay, unsafe workloads and the pay inequality in universities.”

One Law student, Daria Slavnova, who graduated last term without a degree told The Glasgow Guardian: “It’s not necessarily that my work felt undervalued, rather that the opportunity to celebrate such a long and significant phase of my life was diminished on graduation day. It was also difficult to explain to family, friends back home and co-workers how come circumstances stood as they did. And in the months since, instead of being a fond memory to look back on, this last phase of my time at UofG, which was already undermined by the pandemic, distance learning and strikes, feels like something messy to move on from. 

“Regarding next steps, the extent of the effect of the marking and assessment boycott on me depends on how long it continues. I have been able to apply to LLM programmes despite a lack of classification, but am still expected to provide one in the next two months, or else I will be withdrawn from my degree after paying tuition and moving to a new city. So the University’s handling of the boycott definitely continues to be a great source of stress long after we received our empty parchments in June.

“The worst is probably the lack of communication and updates to graduates, which creates a feeling that once students have passed through Bute Hall at the end of the four years, we are no longer the University’s problem. So many of us in the cohort are confused, uninformed and understandably irritated.”


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