Students were also told that exams could be released 'on schedule', if the industrial dispute behind the marking boycott is resolved 'in the coming weeks'.LOUIS ASHWORTH/VARSITY

Students have been told that they will not be receiving their exam results until the next academic year, unless the industrial dispute behind the marking and assessment boycott is resolved.

In emails seen by Varsity, both POLIS and Sociology departments told second and third year students that “in the event of no resolution”, the Exam Board will be rearranged and results released “shortly after” the 30th September.

This is the first time that the university has confirmed to students that results will be delayed to next year.

Part IIB students in their final year were told that they will instead be given a “letter setting out the situation”, including “details of when they’re expected to receive final marks”, to give to “prospective employers, scholarship funders or postgraduate programmes”. The departments said that these would be distributed in early July.

This announcement underlines that, if the industrial dispute is not resolved, finalists’ scholarships, grad jobs, conditional offers for higher study, and visa statuses could be at risk.

Could the industrial dispute be resolved?

Dispute resolution has happened before. The employers’ representative Universities UK (UUK) previously implemented major reforms to the pensions scheme. According to the UCU, the new policies wiped 35% of staff’s future retirement income. However, national strikes earlier this year were then resolved when UUK made commitments to restore retirement benefits.

In the pay dispute which is behind the marking boycott, strikes last year did lead to concessions from the UCEA, with a pay offer worth between 5% and 8%. However, the UCU criticised the package as a real-terms "pay cut" and members voted to reject it.

The UCU's starting demand in potential negotiations is a pay rise of 12%, or RPI inflation plus 2%, whichever is higher. They are also demanding action to end zero hour and temporary contracts.

The employers’ representative UCEA has argued that the higher education sector is in deficit, and that staff pay rises are unaffordable.

However, recent analysis by the UCU has challenged this claim - demonstrating a £2.1 billion surplus in the sector, and staff expenditure at a four year low of 51% of income.

Frustration at UCEA evaluations has also been expressed by staff, after recent announcements undermined past employer evaluations in the pensions dispute.

Pension cuts were justified on the grounds of March 2020 evaluations, taken during a pandemic-driven market crash, that placed the scheme in a deficit between £14.9bn and £17.9bn.

However, estimations by Cambridge University’s actuary advisors later demonstrated the pensions scheme would have been in surplus without the cuts, as of June 2022. In recent days, this has been underlined by USS valuations reporting a £7.6 billion scheme surplus in March.

This has led some to claim that “dodgy” evaluations have been used in the past to justify worsening staff conditions.

Alex, a third year Politics undergrad who holds two Masters programme offers that are conditional on finals grades, told Varsity that they have “had no contact or assurances” from either of their placements, or “even acknowledgment” of the boycott.

The news comes after students slammed the proposed ‘end of studies’ ceremonies earlier this week, criticising the university’s plans as a ‘photo-op’ graduation on top of a degree tainted by Covid and strike disruption.


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The POLIS and Sociology department emails went on to state that exams could be released “on schedule”, if the industrial dispute behind the marking boycott is resolved “in the coming weeks”.

The industrial dispute is over pay and working conditions. The University and College Union (UCU), whose action comes under a national strike mandate, is lined up against the national-level employers’ representative, the UCEA. As it stands, the UCEA has refused to re-enter negotiations with the UCU.

Cambridge University have made a joint statement with the UCU (22/05), calling for the “urgent” resumption of negotiations, after over 1,400 students signed an open letter calling for the university to demand the UCEA agree to re-enter talks.