Lecturers’ pay may be docked for
marking boycott

 

Education Editor

Universities throughout the UK have warned they will dock lecturers’ pay in an unprecedented move which threatens to bring the entire higher education system to a standstill.

University employers have made the dramatic move in the wake of a planned lecturers’ boycott of marking this year’s degrees in protest over being offered just a one per cent pay increase.

Employers’ leaders said they were forced to take drastic steps in the wake of the rise in tuition fees to £9,000 a year, because they feared students or parents could take legal action if they failed to try and ensure degrees were marked on time.

However, the University and College Union, the lecturers’ union, which is calling for the marking boycott from 28 April, claimed the move amounted to “little more than bullying and removed any pretence that universities had students’ interests at heart”.

If the marking boycott goes ahead, lecturers taking part will be docked all their pay and then consider themselves “locked out” - and will thus withdraw from lectures as well.

Universities have told the unions they will consider any work done by boycotting lecturers to be voluntary and therefore unpaid.

The union has initiated a marking boycott before, in 2006, when university employers decided to “ride it out”, but an employers’ source said last night that it was now “a different world” in the light of the fees rises. Students paying so much expected the universities to manage things smoothly.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, said: “This threat is little more than an attempt to bully staff from taking part in industrial action as part of a legitimate grievance against efforts to drive down their pay.”

The union estimates their members’ pay has fallen by 13 per cent in real terms since 2009 and it has taken strike action six times this academic year in protest at the employers’ one per cent pay offer.

The boycott would mean staff refusing to mark students’ work, including coursework essays, portfolios, dissertations, films, works of art etc, or communicate marks to anyone, potentially threatening their ability to graduate this summer.

The dispute has become increasingly bitter as time has gone on, fuelled by revelations that some university vice-chancellors are earning more than £400,000 a year and that those in top universities, such as the Russell Group, pocketed rises of £22,000 on average last year. It led to a warning from Business Secretary Vince Cable in a speech earlier this week to caution them to be moderate in their pay increases.

Ms Hunt added: “You cannot claim to have students’ interests at heart and then escalate the situation by effectively locking staff out of their place of work.

“Nobody wants to see a marking boycott but we are encouraged that the National Union of Students passed a motion of support at their national conference last week. The time has come for the employers to come back to the negotiating table with a serious and fair pay offer.”

The only glimmer of light is that the two sides are due to meet for talks on Tuesday in a bid to solve the dispute before it escalates.

A spokesman for the UCEA, the employers’ organisation, said: “All higher education institutions will have had heavy hearts in deciding how to respond to this potential industrial action that would cause major disruption to students. In the UCU’s own words, this assessment boycott would be ‘potentially impacting on students’ ability to graduate'.

“The responses are unsurprising because HE institutions have long had clear policies not to accept partial performance of duties and would be deducting pay from any staff who chose to take part, precisely in order to limit the impact on student’s education. 

“All parties do of course hope that this potential action will be averted.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee