Marking and assessment boycott FAQs

What is the marking and assessment boycott?

A marking and assessment boycott (MAB action was being taken by some members of the University and College Union (UCU). Since Thursday 20 April, some UCU members stopped carrying out all marking and assessment processes that contribute to summative assessment decisions for students/learners, whether final (i.e. graduation/completion) or interim (i.e. progression decisions).

The MAB was part of a national industrial dispute affecting many UK Universities – not just DMU. Most academic staff are not members of UCU or are members of UCU who decided to not take part in the boycott in any case.

Overall, we sincerely hope that students will face only minimal disruption and we have worked hard to try to ensure that.

Why couldn’t you have planned for this and employed additional marking staff?

For areas where we knew there was likely to be an impact, we have gone to great lengths to employ temporary staff to help with marking. Unfortunately, members of UCU do not have to tell us whether they are taking part in the boycott or not.

Why is it happening?

This action was being taken as part of a national dispute between the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which negotiates on behalf of universities, and the University and College trade union (UCU). De Montfort University is part of that national bargaining framework.

The UCU is a trade union which works on behalf of staff in the university sector, raising issues about pay and working conditions. The union is made up of university staff from across the country who have joined voluntarily. Within the union, elected senior members take part in negotiations to try and represent views and request changes on behalf of those employed in the university sector. Not all staff belong to UCU. In fact, two-thirds of all academics are not represented by UCU or any union at all.

The UCEA is a collective which represents universities themselves. It is governed by a board drawn from Vice-Chancellors, Principals and Chairs of governing councils of universities. It can therefore set pay and working conditions on behalf of the sector.

When will it end?

According to UCU, following a consultation with its membership, the MAB was withdrawn on Wednesday 6 September.

What is included in the marking and assessment boycott?

The boycott may include some or all of the following:

  • Marking, moderating, providing feedback on coursework, exams or other types of summative (not formative) formal assessment; 
  • Posting, releasing, uploading marks or feedback; 
  • Attending/engaging in exam boards or any other meeting or forum related to marking and assessment; 
  • Preparing marking materials;  
  • Administration related to marking.  

What will happen to me as a result of the MAB?

The vast majority of students will be unaffected and results will be released as published.

For those students who are affected, the mostly likely impact will be a delay in receiving your results due to marks are missing at the assessment board. This means that we need to deal with students with missing marks slightly differently to ensure that we are being fair and upholding robust academic standards. 

The University’s Academic Board has approved special regulations to enable us to determine results even where there are some missing marks. These have been designed to uphold the standards of our awards and also to make sure that students are not disadvantaged by missing marks.

For students where there are a lot of missing marks, a Special Considerations Panel will review the situation on a case by case basis.

In all cases you will be kept informed about the likely impact on you and any delay that you may face in receiving your results.

If my results will be delayed, when will I receive them?

We are working at pace to resolve the situation as quickly as we can.  We do understand that the uncertainty is very frustrating and we regret the delay and the impact this will inevitably have upon you and others. Please keep checking your results tile and this regularly-updated FAQ page.

We know that this will be a stressful time for those affected. If you feel that you need support during this time, please reach out to our student support team who are ready to help you.

DMU is committed to doing all we can to ensure that you are inconvenienced as little as possible by this action. In the meantime, please continue to prepare for your planned assessments as you would normally do. Further information about the MAB, including the answers to frequently asked questions, is present at UCU - Marking and assessment boycott FAQs and updated frequently.

I want to apply for a Graduate visa

Until you receive your award, you will not be eligible to apply for a Graduate visa. However, the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) has announced some temporary measures which will allow students in this position to stay in the UK while waiting for results. If your Student / Tier 4 visa will expire within the next 60 days, contact the visa team.

How can I explain late grades as a result of the boycott to any potential employer or study provider?

There may be cases where you are engaged with a potential employer or place of further study and reliant on providing grades in order to secure a place or job. If you are in this position and you are made aware that you might receive your grades later as a result of the boycott, we have provided a template letter you could send to explain the situation. It outlines the cause of the delay and explains the mitigations we are putting in place. It is signed by Nikki Pierce, the university’s Registrar (Academic) and Secretary to the Board of Governors. The Institute for Student Employers (ISE), has also published guidance for employers on how students may be affected by the boycott, how employers may be impacted and any implications for international student hiring/onboarding.

What are assessment boards and how do they affect my results?

Assessment Boards are the formal committees which receive student marks and determine students’ results. Before the assessment board consider them, results are provisional. After the Board, results are ratified and approved. The Board includes internal and external subject experts and staff who are expert in applying the assessment regulations to each student profile. 

If your marks are delayed and ‘miss’ the board, then the Chair of the Assessment Board will sign off the marks when they arrive and release them in the normal way. This may mean that you receive your results later than the main results release date.

Will the value of my degree be the same if I have an award based on some missing marks?

Yes, your degree will have exactly the same value. The Academic Board (the university’s most senior academic committee) has given careful consideration to the exceptional regulations used to calculate your degree to ensure that the standard of the award is maintained. Your degree has been calculated using the marks that you do have, including component marks that form 50% or more of the module assessment.

Will I be able to continue to my next year of study if I’ve got marks missing because of the boycott?

 If your marks are missing as a result of the MAB, we will do our best to ensure you are able to progress to your next level of study through exceptional progression arrangements. Where marks are later provided and the module is found to have been failed, you will need to undertake reassessment, but will still be able to continue with your studies. 

If marks are outstanding because an assessment has not taken place as a result of the MAB, you will have an opportunity to undertake the assessment by the end of the 2023/24 academic year to give you a complete set of marks. These assessments will ensure that you do not miss out on any learning and will put you in the best position to achieve your degree.

What happens if I have missing marks due to the MAB and have failed one or more modules?

If you have failed a module, you will be given a reassessment in the normal way. Once you have passed the module(s), we will apply the special regulations if you still have missing marks as a result of the MAB.