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6 February 2024 - Impact of industrial action on university students - Oral evidence

Committee Education Committee
Inquiry Impact of industrial action on university students

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Start times: 9:30am (private) 10:00am (public)

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Universities marking and assessment boycott investigated by Education Committee

The Education Committee holds the first session of its inquiry examining the impact of industrial action on students, with witnesses from the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), the Office for Students, universities and student bodies. 

Meeting details

At 10:00am: Oral evidence
Inquiry Impact of industrial action on university students
Education Officer at University of Birmingham Guild of Students
Deputy President at Open University Students Association
Vice President for Higher Education at NUS
Vice President Undergraduate Access and Education at University of Oxford
At 11:00am: Oral evidence
Inquiry Impact of industrial action on university students
Chief Executive at Universities and Colleges Employers Association
General secretary at University and College Union
Deputy Director of Enabling Regulation at Office for Students

Whilst there have been periods of strikes led by the UCU in recent years, the cross-party Committee is particularly interested in the marking and assessment boycott held between April and September 2023 at more than 140 institutions, and measures that were taken to mitigate its impacts.

The boycott covered all marking and assessment processes including exam invigilation and processing of marks. At a minority of universities, the boycott led to long delays to graduation and completion of degrees, and students’ ability to move onto employment or further study. Approximately 11,300 final-year students had been unable to graduate by their originally scheduled date. A further 20,000 were affected less significantly.

Examples of mitigation at some universities included staff being asked to cover for colleagues taking part in the boycott, issuing provisional marks based on previous work, and allowing students to progress to further study ‘without detriment’. This meant that a student would be allowed to remain on a course even if a final mark was worse than their interim mark.

MPs will ask about the ways in which groups such as international and post-graduate students were particularly affected by the boycott, and efforts that were made by institutions to support students’ mental health and wellbeing.

The student union representatives will also be asked about how universities handled complaints from affected students and claims for compensation.

The Committee is still accepting written evidence submissions for this inquiry. Visit its website to see how to submit evidence by 5 February. 


Room 15, Palace of Westminster

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