60% of UCU members voting in the consultation were in favour of suspending the MABFelix Armstrong for Varsity

The Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) has been ended, following the results of a UCU consultation. All UCU members have been told the Union is no longer asking them to boycott marking and assessment activities.

60% of UCU members voting in the consultation were in favour of suspending the MAB.

This decision cuts short the boycott’s intended 6-month duration, which would have lasted until the 30th of September.

Earlier this week, the university told staff to complete all marking duties by the 16th of October. The university’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Bhaskar Vira, assured students today that this deadline remains in place.

Cambridge UCU has requested an urgent meeting with senior management of the university to discuss this timeline. The union wishes to discuss with the university “how to resolve the backlog of marking in a way which ensures that we preserve both academic standards and protect the working conditions of staff whilst endeavouring that students receive their results as quickly as possible,” they told Varsity.

“We believe that the additional time now available before the start of the new academic year - due to yesterday’s announcement - should make it easier for Departments and Faculties to meet this deadline,” Professor Vira told students.

Kamal Munir, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for University and Community Engagement, also reminded staff of this deadline today, in an email seen by Varsity.

The early end to the boycott “should help reduce any anticipated workload pressures associated with meeting next month’s deadline,” Professor Munir told staff.

Cambridge UCU will also organise an open forum for students in the coming weeks, they said, to “hear their concerns and look for common ground.” The union said: “We hugely value the support that students have given us over the past few years and believe strongly that we have a collective interest in standing together to defend our learning and working conditions.”

In an email seen by Varsity, UCU General Secretary Jo Grady thanked members for their involvement in the boycott, and said: “We have exposed once and for all a sector which would rather try and starve out its staff, undermine the integrity of degrees, and disrupt students’ learning than give you the pay and conditions that you deserve.”

The UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC) has called five days of strike action, from the 25th to the 29th of September, although these will come before the start of Michaelmas term, on the 3rd of October.

These strike dates were decided nationally, Cambridge UCU told Varsity. “Cambridge terms are out of sync with most other universities and so it isn’t always possible to arrange dates to suit our exact teaching timetables,” the union continued.

“We will be striking alongside our colleagues across the country in the knowledge that we’re part of a national battle to address the current crisis in Higher Education,” Cambridge UCU said.


Mountain View

Cambridge staff given mid-October marking deadline

In response to the boycott's conclusion, Professor Bhaskar Vira, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, told Varsity: “No one would disagree that students have been unfairly and disproportionately affected by the current circumstances and have waited patiently for a resolution. Now that the boycott has ended, it is vital that we enable students to progress with their lives, including those who are expecting to graduate during the October congregations, which are scheduled for the 20th and 21st October. Receiving results by the 16th October will also enable the University to approve formal degree certificates for the thousands of students who attended celebrations in June and July but were not awarded certificates.”

He added that “the deadlines were decided after the Industrial Action Task Force analysed the self-declarations of union members to understand the amount of work required to finalise marks, and following extensive consultation with the most heavily impacted Departments and Faculties, the vast majority of whom agreed with the feasibility of this timeline.”

He also made clear that “Departments and Faculties that are unable to meet the 16 October deadline can apply to the General Board for permission to provide results later. The Industrial Action Task Force has also confirmed its position that any boycott related pay deductions will be refunded for those who complete their marking by 30 September.”