26 September 2023

Universities told to ‘work at pace’ to issue grades delayed by marking boycott

26 September 2023

Universities still to offer degree classifications delayed by marking boycotts must “work at pace” to resolve the issue, a Scottish Government minister has said.

It is understood thousands of students from Scottish universities still do no have their final grades or degree classifications.

Lecturers in the University and College Union (UCU) withdrew the marking and assessment boycott on September 6.

The action short of a strike began in April and was taken by 140 institutions across the UK amid a long-running dispute over pay with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).

While work is now being marked, staff at universities in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow will walk out over various dates this week as the pay dispute continues.

During topical questions in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Scottish Tory education spokesman Liam Kerr said 1,670 students still awaited their degree, while a further 950 needed further classifications.

In response, minister for further and higher education Graeme Dey said: “The impact of this boycott has varied across and within institutions. Now that the boycott has been withdrawn, it is my clear expectation that Scottish universities with backlogs work at pace to complete any outstanding marking assessments to provide affected students with their final awards and degree classifications.”

He also said the impact the marking boycotts had on students had been “deeply, deeply regrettable.”

“I want to take this opportunity to thank those students impacted for their resilience during what must have been an extremely difficult period for them, and those across the sector who worked so hard to support those students and to put mitigations in place wherever possible,” he added.

Mr Kerr said: “Far too many students are still in the dark about their degree classifications, which is understandably a huge source of stress.

This has far-reaching implications – jobs and further education opportunities have been placed in jeopardy as a result, and even the joy of graduating will have felt emptier than it should have been

“This has far-reaching implications – jobs and further education opportunities have been placed in jeopardy as a result, and even the joy of graduating will have felt emptier than it should have been.

“The industrial dispute ultimately stems from the SNP’s underfunding of university teaching and research – higher education is in dire financial straits, with a number of institutions becoming more and more reliant on international funding. These events will undoubtedly have reputational damage, which may place doubt in the minds of international students weighing up whether or not to study in Scotland.

“Our universities urgently need a multi-year settlement and healthy injection of funding to ultimately ensure that students are not forced to endure further disruption in the future.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox