From 20th April 2023, Leeds University UCU members will be engaging in a marking and assessment boycott. Pay and working conditions negotiations between unions and the employer’s governing body, UCEA, reached an impasse in March, and after UCU renewed our mandate to take action for the next six months, UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC) called this action to further pressure our employers into returning to the negotiating table.
Senior management may well demand other staff, likely non-specialist staff, cover the marking of striking staff. In short, the University Senior Management Team is willing to risk your grades at the hands of people who do not know what you have been taught or what the requirements for your assessments are. The actions of the University Senior Management Team will directly worsen your learning conditions and the value of your degree.
We, your teachers and professional services staff, want to continue to put the interest of students first, as we have tried to do throughout these disputes. While a volatile situation, we will continue to communicate with you, and outline here:
What shape a boycott takes
How we will continue to support you
What is in your power to shape the direction of this university
1. What will be affected:
A marking and assessment boycott delays delivery of grades and possibly as a consequence graduation:
Staff participating in the boycott will temporarily not mark your work.
Staff will not participate in exam boards.
This may delay graduation.
2. How we will continue to support you:
This is a dispute between staff and senior management, not between staff and students. We will do our best to ensure individual students are not disproportionately affected.
We will support students taking up offers for postgraduate studies. We will provide letters of recommendations if requires. The UK Higher Education sector knows that disruptions because of the dispute have affected students. They will be understanding and we will be communicative.
We will support students in job applications, writing references and indicating past and projected performance. You can email your tutors and advisors for reference letters, transcripts, etc.
International students can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if they have concerns about time-sensitive visas.
This is a marking boycott, not a learning boycott. Teachers can provide informal feedback, continue to supervise postgraduate dissertations and support students preparing for their final assignment.
3. What is in your power
Students can change the direction of this dispute. The Senior Management Team are choosing not to limit disruption. You can convince them to listen to the needs of staff and students and ensure the University of Leeds becomes a fairer working and learning environment. There are several related routes you can take:
Write to the University of Leeds VC. Personalise it! Ask the University Senior Management to engage in meaningful negotiations with UCU. Ask them to pressure UCEA, the employer’s body.
You can raise a Notification with the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS is the regulatory body for UK Higher Education and relies on students raising concerns (as well as regular reporting by university governing bodies) to address issues with the student experience. A formal complaint is a lengthy process, but a ‘Notification’ makes OfS aware that the Leeds Senior Management Team has, whatever their claims, allowed disruption to students’ education and is jeopardising students’ graduation.
Stay in touch
We will keep you informed via our website. We want to keep you in the loop and continue to work with students to build a university that is supportive of everyone.
You can reach out to us to discuss concerns and plans. You can find the Leeds UCU union branch on twitter (@leedsucu), tiktok (@leedsucu), or via email@example.com Leeds Student Staff Solidarity has a helpful overview of student support. You can find them on twitter (@SSSLeeds).
We hope that with your help, the Senior Management Team will engage in meaningful negotiations so that together with management we can improve your learning conditions and our working conditions.
Your teachers and professional services staff
This page was last updated on 2 May 2023