Lecturers in deal to end exam boycott

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A pay dispute which has caused unprecedented disruption to university students' degree courses was called off last night as lecturers' unions finally struck a deal with employers.

The deal will mean a last-minute reprieve for thousands of final-year undergraduates who appeared unlikely to be unable to graduate this summer after lecturers refused to mark their exam papers.

Lecturers' leaders agreed a 13.1 per cent pay rise over three years - an offer which they had rejected less than a week earlier, but yesterday accepted, arguing that they had won an important concession about reviewing the third year of the deal if more money was to become available.

The union immediately announced that the national boycott of assessment would be suspended from midnight last night, with the pay deal put to a ballot of members.

Dr Geoffrey Copland, chairman of UCEA, the employers' organisation, said: "Employers are delighted because every effort has been made to put negotiations back on track. We are particularly pleased that the immediate suspension of industrial action will stop disruption for students and allow completion of examination processes."