Dear Commons Community,
Lecturers at some 140 universities have refused to mark exam papers and coursework, in an escalation of a simmering dispute over pay and working conditions. Thousands of students from Cambridge to Edinburgh are unable to graduate or face indefinite delays in receiving their final marks because of the latest labor dispute, which began in April and shows no sign of resolution. As reported by the Associated Press and the Times Higher Education.
It’s not clear exactly how many students are affected, but the University and College Union (UCU), which represents academics and lecturers, estimated that “easily tens of thousands” will not graduate this summer as disruptions look likely to drag on into the next academic year.
The uncertainties have been particularly worrying for international students, who face additional complications and costs to remain in the U.K. Those hoping to stay in the country to look for work can only apply for a graduate visa after they get their degree.
The University and College Union blames college administratons for “throwing students under the bus.” It argues that universities have enough surplus income to raise staff wages by 10%, but are refusing to offer staff anything on pay increases.
“The pay of my colleagues has decreased in real terms, it has been cut by around 20 to 25% over the last 10 or so years. And though there have been very, very incremental increases, these have been well below the rate of inflation,” said Tanzil Chowdhury, a senior law lecturer at Queen Mary University.
He added that the majority of academic staff in the U.K. are overworked and have long endured insecure contracts, “working month to month or year to year.”