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.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + + uncapped commission + benefits: SThree: Did you ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits + uncapped commission: SThree: Did you kn...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Web Developer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions