Education, News, Politics & Society

Redundancy dispute threatens to delay graduations, as University may withhold staff’s pay over marking boycott

The redundancy dispute at Leicester has threatened to delay graduations in the School of Biological Sciences, with the University saying they ‘may withhold’ some staff’s pay over their marking boycott as it “constitutes partial performance of a contract.”

The University’s School of Biological Sciences sent an email ‘appealing’ to staff to return students marks otherwise they would have to ‘break our promise’ that students would ‘graduate on time’.

Megan Parish, a final-year Medical Genetics student, stated: “A delayed graduation after everything we’ve been through as a cohort is not right.”

Adding: “The university has shown that they do not care about staff and students, instead the priority is profit.”

The final deadline for the marks to be returned was 16 June, but there has been no confirmation whether this deadline was met.

The marks would then be “filled by the University (not the School) Board of Examiners algorithmically.”

The redundancy dispute has become increasingly bitter, as neither side looks to back down, with students’ education becoming increasingly caught in the crossfire.

Megan stated: “[A delayed graduation] is going to set students behind in the graduate market compared to other universities. The market is already competitive and gives students yet another disadvantage.”

Professor Nick Hartell, Chair of Neuroscience, tweeted: “here the blame for a marking boycott at @uniofleicester college of life sciences is laid squarely on the shoulders of those bullied into redundancy, voluntary severance scheme (VSS) or teaching focussed posts. Pretty shabby email in my opinion.”

Leicester UCU tweeted: “Rather than negotiate to end @leicesterucu marking boycott, staff are told @uniofleicester will use algorithms to fill in missing marks… cos this worked out so well for Alevel students in 2020, right?”

Megan stated: “Although the prospect of a delayed graduation as a result of the dispute is frustrating, I think it’s right for the staff to stand up for themselves.”

Professor Graham Wynn, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Education at the University of Leicester, said:

“Our primary focus has firmly remained on supporting our students during what has been an incredibly challenging year for them.

“The University is still in the post-assessment marking period and it is our priority to ensure our finalists can graduate and take the next steps in their journey, and that current students receive their outcomes for this academic year. At this point we do not expect any significant delay to the conferral of degrees or the quality and standards of our awards to be impacted.

“The University has set out that it may withhold some pay from members of staff taking part in action short of a strike because not marking student’s assessments constitutes partial performance of a contract.”


Toby Cray is a second-year journalism student. You can find him on Twitter here

Find Toby’s satirical work here

Image by Gillian Callison from Pixabay

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