I am writing to give you an important update about UCU’s marking and assessment boycott at Cambridge.
The Regent House, the body comprising members of the academic, senior research and senior administrative staff of the University and the Colleges, has recently voted on whether to introduce exceptional powers to help mitigate the impacts of the boycott. Today, we learned that the Regent House voted against introducing these powers.
As Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, while I accept the outcome, its impact on students is regrettable. The measures that the University Council was seeking to help students complete their degrees and progress will now not be available. We will continue to make every effort to get work marked but this result does mean that there will be longer delays for more students. We still hope that most of you will remain unaffected. The boycott is scheduled to last until the end of September when UCU’s current mandate for industrial action expires.
The powers sought by the Council are widely available across the higher education sector and, if available, would have enabled more students to graduate, without compromising academic standards.
Decisions about marking and assessment, and mitigation measures, are made at the level of individual departments and faculties. The General Board has set up an Exams Emergency Task Force, which is advising departments and faculties on actions to support students, whilst maintaining academic standards. Please look out for updates from your department or faculty.
In the meantime, existing advice remains – please focus on revision and preparation for examinations and submit all your work, which will be marked, and provide the basis for the award of your final degrees.
I am aware that many international students whose visas are due to expire will be worried about the consequences of a delay to confirmation of their final degree results. We are working hard to address this particular issue and will communicate further on this. For now, if you want advice on this matter, please contact the International Student Office.
Once again, I deeply regret the impact the marking and assessment boycott is having on some of you. Please do ask for support if you need it. It is available via the University’s student support services or within your College. All industrial disputes ultimately end via negotiation, and I hope that universities and UCU will resume talks to bring the boycott to an end.
With best wishes
Professor Bhaskar Vira, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education
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