An update on the marking and assessment boycott

University of Edinburgh updated statement on the marking and assessment boycott:

Industrial action is continuing across the higher education sector in the form of a marking and assessment boycott. We regret that we have not been able to shield our students from the impact of this national dispute and we are deeply sorry about the continued uncertainty that some of them face over their immediate futures.

While many of our students have received their marks as expected at the end of the academic year, the ongoing boycott continues to cause delays for a significant number of students. Participation in the boycott varies across the University, which unfortunately means that some cohorts of students are more affected than others.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to academic standards and this is reflected in the careful work we have been doing to try to mitigate the impact of this action.

At the time of graduations, 27 per cent of final year students (around 1600 students) had not yet received a final decision on their degree outcome. We gave these students the choice of attending a graduation celebration as planned or coming back at a later date when their degrees are finalised: the vast majority chose to attend as planned.

We are determined to ensure that all marking is completed and accounted for at the earliest opportunity. If the boycott ends on 30 September as currently planned, we expect the next opportunity to finalise awards will be towards the end of October, with outcomes expected to be published in November.  In the meantime, where possible, we will continue to work with colleagues to try to complete further marking and assessment, so there remains a possibility that some students may receive marks before the boycott ends.

This industrial action has also resulted in delays for progressing students. We have written to those affected to reassure them that they are still permitted to commence their next year of study, but they may be required to take further assessment if they are later found to have failed any courses. As in any year, those who do not have sufficient academic credits for reasons unrelated to the marking and assessment boycott are not permitted to progress into the next year of study.

We are communicating regularly with our students and we have a range of support in place to help them through this unsettling period.

The marking and assessment boycott is a sector-wide issue and we recognise that many students across the UK are experiencing delays in receiving their final degree results. We want to reassure those applying for further study with us that we will support them in relation to the impact the industrial action may have on their success within their chosen programme.

This is a UK-wide dispute and we cannot make unilateral decisions about pay without national compromise, though we endeavour to influence negotiations where we can. We welcome the continued talks between the Universities and Colleges Employers Association and joint union representatives, aimed at exploring the process for resolving this dispute and bringing an end to the marking and assessment boycott.

We also recognise that the difficulties in finding a resolution to the current dispute reflect entrenched and longstanding structural matters in the sector, and we welcome the proposal for an independent review of sector finances.

In the meantime, we will continue to work in partnership with UCU Edinburgh on employment matters that are within our local control and where we can make improvements in the ways we support our staff.

Additional information

  • A marking and assessment boycott enquiry hub is available for students and their supporters and can be contacted via and 0131 650 2135, with phone lines available from 10am to 4pm.
  • The University has not implemented a ‘no-detriment’ policy for this industrial action. Our approach to the marking of assessments and dissertations is in line with the sector as a whole, including progression and degree outcomes. 
  • All exams and assessments will be marked by those who set the assessment should they decide to end the boycott or by qualified academic experts from the University in the relevant fields.
  • The measures we have in place to account for the impact of industrial action are accompanied by conditions to ensure that academic standards are maintained at all times.  
  • We are committed to ensuring that every assessment counts, even if that takes some time. The final degree that students are awarded will be based on the full body of work submitted and will be assessed in its entirety.
  • Graduation ceremonies proceeded as planned. All students who have been awarded their degree, final or provisional, or who are awaiting a final decision on their degree outcome, were able to participate. Students who do not yet have an award were given the option to defer to a future ceremony if they prefer. As in any year, those who have failed or not completed their final year for reasons not directly related to the marking and assessment boycott were not be able to participate in the graduation ceremony.
  • For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that students intending to apply for the Graduate Route will be able to apply to extend their student visa permission from within the UK whilst they wait for their results. However, those who wish to apply for a new visa to further their studies must meet UK Visas and Immigration’s (UKVI) academic progression rule to be able to apply from within the UK. Our student immigration service is available to support students with their visa applications.
  • Participation in the marking and assessment boycott is considered partial performance of contract and varying deductions are being made by institutions across the UK impacted by this action. Though we reserve the right to withhold up to 100 per cent of pay in these circumstances, we recognise that staff are continuing to undertake some duties and as a result those participating in the boycott are receiving 50 per cent of their usual pay.
  • Although we are not obliged to do so, the University intends to pay full employer pension contributions for those taking part in industrial action, i.e. we will not reduce our employer pension contribution to reflect the amount of pay we will withhold for taking part in the boycott of marking and assessment processes. We will also process contributions, based on colleagues' normal pensionable pay. This ensures they will maintain full pension benefits despite participating in this action.