The Marking Boycott: Navigating the Storm

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The recent UCU marking boycott has been making waves in the academic community and is, understandably, a worry for final year undergraduates.

Here's what we know, and what you can do...

Understanding the Marking Boycott

The UK marking boycott stems from dispute between university lecturers and their employer universities about pay and working conditions. Staff in the University and College Union (UCU) are collectively protesting by refusing to to undertake certain administrative duties such as marking coursework and exams.

Implications for Students

If your coursework or exams remain unmarked, it is likely to lead to delays in receiving grades, feedback, and ultimately, your overall degree award. We know that this is really challenging for final-year students preparing for job applications or postgraduate studies.

Seeking Advice and Support

There are a number of sources of advice and support open to you: 

1. Students' Union Advice Services. Many have put out statements and you can reach out to them for information, guidance and representation via their websites.

2. Student Representatives: Student representatives, such as course or programme representatives, can be valuable resources. They can advocate for your concerns to the university administration and provide updates on the progress of negotiations between staff and management. 

3. Online Forums and Social Media: Engaging with online communities, such as student forums or social media groups, can connect you with your peers facing similar challenges. Here, you can share experiences, seek advice, and stay updated on the latest developments regarding the marking boycott.

4. Alternative Assessment Options: Some universities may adopt alternative assessment methods in light of the marking boycott. Stay informed about any changes or adaptations made by your institution by asking your tutors to help you understand how these adjustments may affect your coursework and exams.

What is Gradsouthwest doing?

We are in regular contact with SW (and wider) employers and have sent them information about the boycott and asked them to take it into account when recruiting. You should not let the boycott put you off applying for jobs. 

Remaining Resilient and Adapting

In times of uncertainty, it's important to remain resilient and adaptable. We're all used to that after the pandemic! Remember, you are not alone - the boycott affects the entire 2023 cohort and whilst it's unsettling, recruiters and postgrad programmes still need graduates!

Useful Links

Office for Students (OfS) Letter - outlines the expectations for the protection of student interests


Charlotte Weston

Charlotte is a graduate and a Director of Gradsouthwest. She managed the service for many years before going freelance in project management and communications. She now works as an Associate for a number of creative agencies and remains passionate about helping early career graduates find fulfilling careers in the south west.