Edinburgh University student 'infuriated' as dissertations could go unmarked due to marking boycott
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An Edinburgh University student is ‘infuriated’, as months of work could go unmarked due to a marking boycott.
A nationwide marking and assessment boycott was brought about by the University and College Union, in a dispute over staff pay and working conditions. In response to the action, the University said it has put in “range of temporary variations to provide greater flexibility to marking assessments”. However, Edinburgh students fear that these “variations” mean their grades will be only based on already marked work, leaving projects like dissertations unmarked and not included in their final grade.
Emily Edge, a fourth year student, said she is “infuriated” by the university’s response to the boycott. The 22-year-old will likely have to graduate before receiving marks for her dissertation and other projects, meaning her entire degree classification will be based off of three essays alone. Emily, who started working on her dissertation last summer, said: “It feels like a year's worth of work, and so much effort and time, have gone to waste. It’s very demoralising.” She is from England, and is paying £9,000 a year to study at the prestigious university. She said she feels as though she is "paying for absolutely nothing", due to the disruption she’s faced in her studies.
The student does not disagree with striking staff, but instead blames Edinburgh University's leadership team. She said: "They've had a blatant disregard for their students, and for their professors and tutors”. She feels her university experience has been “tainted”, and added: “We’ve always had disruption, whether it be strikes or Covid, and each time they haven't dealt with it well at all.”
In an open letter, students expressed their “extreme frustration” with the University, and urged its leadership team to ensure that all work is marked in a timely manner. They wrote: "Students in Edinburgh, and the nearly 2 million others nationwide, have waited patiently for responsible leadership and a sign that you value us. It’s time to deliver that leadership.”
Earlier this month, more than 400 university staff members wrote an open letter to the leadership team. Lecturers wrote that they were “appalled” at the university’s “cavalier disregard” for degrees and the welfare of students. They continued: “We are especially troubled by the impact on final year undergraduates, who may find a large proportion of their honours assignments do not contribute to their degree classification. The plan to award degrees based on incomplete information [...] deprives many of the opportunity to demonstrate their full potential and growth over the course of a programme of study”.
A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “While the marking and assessment boycott is part of industrial action taken on a national level by UCU, we are keen to find a local resolution which limits the impact on our students. For this reason, we proposed to UCU Edinburgh that colleagues participating in this action would not have 50 per cent of their pay withheld if they agreed to mark and assess the work of graduating and final year students. Our proposal includes the final work for postgraduate students and those students who must meet specific conditions to allow them to progress in their degree. We appreciate UCU Edinburgh engaging further in this conversation and their agreement to ballot their members on our proposal.
"In recognition, we have paused the withholding of 50 per cent of pay for April participation in the boycott. Full salary will be paid to April participants in their May salary. Although the proportion of colleagues participating in this boycott is low, we acknowledge it places a high level of stress on our community, particularly final year students. We will continue to engage in conversations with UCU Edinburgh in the hope that we can find a resolution that is agreeable to all sides.”