What is happening?
UCU (The University and College Union) have announced additional industrial action in 2023. This industrial action which previously included the strike experienced earlier in the year and Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) now includes a Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB). You can find out what this means below.
Some of you may be affected by the action. Because not all University of Brighton staff are members of UCU, not all students will be affected.
The University has published some information about the earlier strikes which you can see here.
Marking and Assessment Boycott
Deborah Humphries, Vice Chancellor, recently said “I am hugely disappointed to have to confirm that the University and College Union (UCU) has informed the University that, as part of national action, it is extending its current action short of strike to now include a boycott of all marking and assessment processes with effect from 20 April 2023.”
We know that this action comes at the time of year designed to cause the most impact on students. The good news is that BSU have been working with the university to ensure that the impact of the industrial action is minimised as much as it can be. This means Supplementary Regulations have been put in place to help reduce the impact on receiving your award or progression decision.
The Supplementary Regulations are complex, but the Dean of your School will have contacted you already about how you will be affected. If you have any questions about how you will be impacted, you should contact your School Office in the first instance.“ - Deborah Humphries, Vice Chancellor, April 2023.
We have now been told by the University that students in the School of Humanities & Applied Social Science as well as the School of Arts & Media will be affected by the marking and assessment boycott.
All students should have received information from the Dean of their School advising them of the changes being made to their progression and awards.
You will have been contacted by your School already about how you will be affected.
If you have any questions about how this affects you, you should contact your School Office in the first instance. You may wish to use the Student Complaints Resolution Process if you remain dissatisfied.
How to prepare for strike days
Ask your lecturer if they intend to take part, so you can plan for this (but note they are under no obligation to tell you)
Keep all your receipts; this is important if you arrive at a lecture or seminar and find it has been cancelled. You should keep a record of all the costs you incur during the strike action.
Keep a log of how you are affected.
Still submit your work - if you have a deadline you must still submit your work unless you are told otherwise.
Meet with your lecturer after the strike is finished to discuss any areas you need to catch up on.
Don't panic - there is lots of advice and support available to you.
Got a question we haven't covered here? Please email BSUSupport@brighton.ac.uk and we'll add it.
What is industrial action?
Industrial action is when members of a trade union take action against their employer. This is often as a result of failed negotiations concerning pay or conditions. A strike is when workers cease working or providing the services they are paid for. Workers do not get paid whilst they are on strike.
Who are UCU?
UCU (The University and College Union) are the largest teaching union for universities across the UK.
What is the strike about?
UCU balloted their members and the result of this ballot has meant they are taking industrial action around pay, working conditions and pensions. This is a country-wide dispute meaning that students at many different universities could be affected.
What will happen on strike days?
Strike days will impact students in different ways and many will not be affected at all. There will be more disruption in some Schools than others due to a greater number of staff there being members of UCU and choosing to go on strike.
If lecturers in your School are taking part, it may mean that lectures or seminars you have scheduled on those days do not take place.
Non-academic staff, such as those that work University support services, can go on strike also, so you may find changes to those services on the strike days.
You may not know in advance which staff are intending to strike, so some of your classes or services may be cancelled at short notice.
If your teaching session is cancelled because of strike action, this will not affect your attendance record.
How will students be affected?
Industrial action aims to disrupt service leading to student dissatisfaction. Institutions rely on student satisfaction to operate effectively. UCU hopes that strike action will lead to key decision makers making changes to pay and working conditions.
Some students will be affected during the strikes, as they will not receive their normal level of service. This might include being unable to access services, not having work marked and not being able to attend teaching sessions.
Staff may be present on 'picket lines' on campus, This means creating a boundary of people outside University buildings protesting about the issues and encouraging others to join the strike action.
What is 'action short of a strike'?
Action short of a strike (ASOS) is where staff refuse to complete tasks outside of their contractual working hours, or undertake tasks not specifically included in their contracts. Examples might include:
- Taking part in an assessment and marking boycott (i.e. not marking students' work in the evenings)
- Not supporting events and activities
- Not covering for colleagues that are absent or striking.
If staff are taking place in ASOS, you may find that normal service is disrupted, i.e. it may take longer for your lecturer to return your marked assignments.
Can I still message my lecturer?
Yes of course, please continue to communicate with your lecturer as you usually would. But just bear in mind they might take longer to get back to you than usual.
Will BSU buildings be open on strike days?
Yes - all our spaces will be open on all campuses. We appreciate the strike period might be difficult for some of you so please do come and see us.
What is BSU's position on the strikes?
Your full-time officer team are committed to ensuring that all students feel supported during this period of industrial action. We are here to provide help, advice and guidance to all of you during this time. If you are worried about the effects of the strike action on your studies or final marks, you can contact BSUSupport@brighton.ac..uk for confidential advice and guidance.
Will I be assessed on material I have missed due to the strikes?
All Academic Schools have a responsibility for mitigating against the impact of the strikes. They may do this by removing the missed content from your assessments, or providing the material to you in different ways. You should speak with your School about how they plan to do this.
The University must ensure you are not disadvantaged due to missed learning and that your learning outcomes are delivered, but they do not have to offer you a like for like replacement.
How will I know what work has been marked and what has not?
You will receive an individual letter from your examination board as usual. This will tell you how to access your module marks and will make clear to you which work has been marked and which has not.
What assurances can the University provide that my work will in fact be marked in the future?
We continue to expect that all work will, ultimately, be marked. However, this may take longer than anticipated. The Strike Action could continue indefinitely. If this is happens, Brighton Students' Union will continue to lobby the University senior management team to resolve the issue.
Who will mark my work? Will they be a specialist in my subject area?
The university has stated "All work will be marked by staff with appropriate qualifications in academic level and subject knowledge." Any queries about this should be addressed to your School Office in the first instance.
What can I do if I want to make a complaint about the impact of the boycott?
If you have any concerns about changes to your course, or any impact on your learning, progression or graduation as a result of industrial action, please contact your School Operations Manager in your School office as a first step.
Will there be an option to appeal or challenge any decisions made due to the marking and assessment boycott?
The University’s academic appeals process can be used to request a review of an examination board decision, including decisions made where marks are missing due to the boycott.