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UCU announces the end of the Marking and Assessment Boycott

There will be five days of strike action from Monday 25th to Friday 29th September.

Image courtesy of Charlie Gadd

By Amelia Shaw, News Deputy Editor and Will Standring, News Editor

After months of uncertainty, the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) has been suspended. The University and College Union (UCU) has notified there will be five more days of strike action.

On the 6th September, UCU announced that 60% of its members voted in favour of calling off the strikes after several months of collective action.

The MAB had a previous mandate from union members to continue until 30th September.

While details and plans surrounding the withdrawal of the MAB remain undisclosed at this stage, Epigram currently understands that there will be a timely assessment grading process, by lecturers, for assignments dating back to before the summer.

This should see students receive grades for work that has not yet been marked.

The UCU has responded by calling out higher education institutions within their suspension statement, stating that strikers had ‘exposed once and for all a sector which would rather try and starve out its staff, undermine the integrity of degrees, and disrupt students' learning than give you the pay and conditions deserved.'

A University of Bristol spokesperson told Epigram: 'The Marking & Assessment Boycott (MAB) has now concluded after University College Union (UCU) members voted for suspension.'

'We recognise that the boycott has been difficult and unsettling for all parties involved, and we will be updating staff in relation to completing outstanding marking and communicating with our students about when they can expect to hear about their results.'

UCU has also announced five days of strike action coinciding with the first week of university teaching.

Strike action will take place on the 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th September. 70,000 staff at 150 universities are expected to participate in the strike.

Students can expect their teaching to be cancelled if the relevant member of staff is a member of the UCU. However, it is left to the discretion of the staff member whether to inform students that teaching will be cancelled.

UCU has also opened the ‘Respect FE’ ballot for its members which, if passed, will provide the UCU with a mandate for another six months of strike action. This comes as the UCU’s previous mandate, which passed in April with 85% of the vote, is set to expire.

UNISON, which represents the university’s professional staff, also looks set to continue industrial action after UCEA failed to strike a pay deal with them. Like the UCU, UNISON has been engaged in a dispute with the universities for a year now and has rejected various pay offers.

Regarding the strikes, a University of Bristol spokesperson added: 'Disappointingly, further industrial action has also been announced at UK universities, including here at Bristol, from Monday 25 until Friday 29 September.'

'This falls on the first week of teaching and we are now working closely with schools and faculties to minimise disruption as we acknowledge this first week is a very important time for all our returning and new students who use this period to make friendships and connections with others on their courses.'

How do you feel about the announcement that there will be further days of strike action? Let us know!