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UoN Responds To UCU Marking Boycott

Lauren McGaun

In response to the University and College Union’s (UCU) announcement that some staff may engage in a marking boycott over summer, the University of Nottingham has released a statement regarding their policy on students’ grade assessments. The changes would mean some students’ final results could be based on past performance or previous marks achieved for parts of modules. Impact‘s Head of News Lauren McGaun reports. 

For students whose lecturers are not engaging in the marking boycott, their final classifications or progression marks will be unaffected. For all other students, several options have been outlined in the University’s statement, including ‘part-for-whole’ marking, a derived mark or the option of a first-sit assessment. 

The change would impact students hoping to perform better on the remaining part of their module 

The ‘part-for-whole’ marking option would mean that, if students have already received a mark for 40% or more of their module, that existing mark would be used as the grade outcome for the whole module. Whilst this would benefit students who have already scored highly on part of their module, the change would impact students hoping to perform better on the remaining part of their module. 

The other scenario of derived marking would mean that if the marking boycott goes ahead and less than 40% of the module has been marked, the final grade classification will be based on the student’s past academic performance.

If students are dissatisfied with derived marking or ‘part-for-whole’ grading, they also have the option of a first sit which would consist of waiting for the original assessment to be marked or taking the assessment again at a later date and waiting for it to be marked. As of now, it is still unclear how long any marking boycotts would proceed for and whether this would delay final year students’ graduations, scheduled for late July and early August. 

The statement adds: “We are doing everything we can to ensure students can progress or graduate, knowing that they have met the learning outcomes and have confidence in the value of their degree.” This week, finalists were sent invitations to their summer graduation ceremonies but many students are now worried they may be unable to attend if they are dissatisfied with the grades they receive as a result of marking boycotts. 

The disruption comes after the 2022 cohort have also had the Covid-19 pandemic impact a significant proportion of their learning experience. 

“I find it crazy how the University would rather let us fail or be dragged down to averages than pay their staff”

Reacting to the news, many final year students are anxious and upset about what this announcement could mean for their graduate prospects. “It is so unfair. I’ve put so much work into my dissertation and it could, fingers crossed, drag up my grade but this now seems to be in jeopardy,” said Alice Nott, final year History and Politics student. 

“I find it crazy how the University would rather let us fail or be dragged down to averages than pay their staff,” added Isabelle Raikes, final year History and American Studies student. 

Students in other year groups have also been left frustrated by the news, worried about what these proposed progression marks could mean for their future years of study. “I’m a first year and I’m annoyed so I can’t imagine how final years must be feeling! It’s disgraceful,” said Hannah Walton-Hughes.

Whilst the University of Nottingham says it recognises students’ concerns, the institution insists that it is putting sufficient measures in place to support students to “achieve the assessment outcome they have worked for”. 

The University’s full statement can be read here.

Lauren McGaun

Featured image courtesy of McElspeth via Pixabay. Image licence found here. No changes were made to this image.

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