Association Leaders stand against UCU marking and assessment boycott

Two students with loud hailers. Text reads: Association statement on UCU marking boycott survey outc

From 28 April to 9 May, the Student Leadership Team shared a poll to informally gauge the feelings of OU students regarding the UCU marking and assessment boycott. 

Students were invited to let us know whether they supported or opposed the boycott action which began on 20 April 2023. The informal poll received 12,431 votes. 7,300 students voted to oppose the marking and assessment boycott (59%) and 5,131 students voted to support it (41%).  

Graph showing that 59% of voters opposed the marking and assessment boycott and 41% supported it.

We understand why industrial action has been taken and we continue to offer our support for the rights of those striking. However, the Association has made the decision to stand against the tactic of a marking and assessment boycott, which disproportionately impacts students. We know that for many OU students there are already a number of challenges to overcome when studying. Adding another hurdle to their path is not something that the Students Association can support.  

Many thanks to all the students who shared personal stories of how a boycott could impact them. The significant response rate to the poll indicates to us the strength of feeling on both sides. We have used this poll, personal stories from students and other information available to us from conversations with both the University and UCU to confirm our position. 

In accordance with our articles, as your Association we are devoted to the "educational interests and welfare of our student members". We have heard from many students who are angry and disappointed that their ability to progress their studies has been influenced negatively by a dispute they have no control over.   

One OU student said: “I have been impacted by the marking and assessment boycott as I was due to complete my degree this year, but due to being on an extension before the announcement of the marking and assessment boycott it was unlikely that I would receive feedback that I depended on going into my EMA. Therefore, I made the difficult decision to defer as it was possibly going to impact on my degree classification.” 

Other students wrote to us to express disappointment that the OU made the decision not to offer feedback only without a mark. One advised: “This has left a sour taste for me considering my next assignment includes working on your feedback from my TMA.”  

The Student Leadership Team will be focused on seeking answers to questions regarding the marking and assessment boycott and ensuring your voice is heard. We urge the UCU to consider a course of action that minimises the negative impact on students, and we encourage both sides to seek swift resolution. Updates will be shared via the news section of our website. 

Individual Student Leadership Team members will not be responding to queries regarding the boycott or the recent poll, if you need to talk with someone about your studies and your tutor is not available, please contact your Student Support Team.


What to do if you are impacted?

The OU has worked to put mitigations in place to minimise the impact of a marking and assessment boycott. According to the University, if you have not received your marked assignment within 10 working days of the cut-off date (or your submission date if you had an extension), you should contact your Student Support Team. Your Student Support Team will contact the faculty to check the reason for the delay and when you can expect to receive your marked work back. 
The marking boycott may result in delays to some module results. Anyone whose module results may be delayed for whatever reason will be contacted to advise them of the revised result release date. 
Further information on what do to if your module results are delayed is available in the help centre.