Industrial action 2023
Updates and information for students on industrial action at the University.
Industrial action is taking place across many UK Universities.
On 6 September 2023, the University and College Union (UCU) announced that, nationally:
- The marking and assessment boycott which had been in place since April is called off with immediate effect
- Strike action will take place from Monday 25 September to Friday 29 September
Guidance for students
Below is further advice and guidance to support you during this industrial action. We will keep these pages updated and email you about any significant developments.
Important dates, graduations and progression
You will have now received confirmation of what final marks we have available for you. As outlined in our email to all students on 12 June, our plan is to let you know the outcomes of your hard work this year whether that is your degree classification for final year students, progression to your dissertation for postgraduate students, or progress in your degree for others.
We sent a further email to final year undergraduate students with an outstanding degree award outcome due to the boycott on 20 July 2023, with a likely timeline for the provision of final marks.
If you’re an undergraduate student due to continue your studies next year, you will already have been contacted by your School with your available course marks and progression outcome.
This included information about what mitigations have been applied, and if marks are still to be returned for some courses. If the overall impact of the industrial action on your courses means that the Board of Examiners was unable to reach a confirmed decision regarding your progression, you will still be permitted to commence your next year of study. This does not mean that credit will be awarded automatically for courses with missing or delayed results. When results become available and you have failed one or more courses, you may be required to sit further assessment. If missing or delayed course marks do not meet the threshold for progression, your School will contact you to discuss your options.
In all cases, no student who has been allowed to progress on a provisional basis will be required to leave the University before the end of the year.
If you’re a postgraduate taught student due to progress onto your dissertation, your School will already have contacted you with your available course marks and progression outcome.
This included information about what mitigations have been applied, and if marks are still to be returned for some courses. If the overall impact of the industrial action on your courses means that the Board of Examiners was unable to reach a confirmed decision regarding your progression, you will be permitted to submit your dissertation for assessment – we appreciate that students will have already started this work, and will be well ahead with preparations for submission in the summer.
Once missing or delayed course marks become available, if these do not meet the threshold for progression, your eligibility for an exit award (e.g. a Certificate or Diploma) will be considered by the relevant Board of examiners in line with the normal assessment regulations.
Unfortunately, as noted some students have been impacted by delays due to the boycott because of the availability of marks, and initially we have only been able to define a provisional progression or award decision. However, we have committed to ensuring all work is marked and once any missing marks are available, all students will receive confirmation of their course results, and their progression or degree award decision. It is our expectation that this will be done, but it may take some time and will vary by degree and School – so at the moment we aren’t able to clarify a precise timeline.
The focus of our work initially is to confirm results for graduating students, but we will continue to work through all outstanding assessments for all years. We will update this as we get new information, and your School will keep in touch with you about your grades as soon as they can – but please bear in mind this might take an extended period of time.
The first available chance for marks to be reviewed will be at the October Boards of Examiners, which are required to ensure we maintain robust grading and academic integrity. Schools are planning to review and confirm as many impacted course results as possible at those meetings.
The University has made a temporary variation to regulations to allow students to start a period of study abroad in Year 3 where they have some course results missing due to the impact of industrial action. Your School can offer advice if you have questions about your eligibility to study abroad, or start a work placement, next year.
If you require evidence you have completed your studies for further study or employment, we can provide you with a letter to confirm you have completed your studies until your award can be confirmed. This letter will confirm you have completed your studies at the University of Edinburgh and will display the courses and marks achieved for completed courses and those courses where marks have been delayed as a result of the Marking and Assessment Boycott. You can access this letter through the Electronic Document Service:
If you have questions about this letter or can’t access, please contact email@example.com
A ‘Highly likely to complete’ letter provides a predicted degree outcome and a specific date the outcome will be available. In our academic regulations the Board of Examiners is responsible for determining if a student has met the academic requirements to receive an award. Where a Board has had to defer an award decision due to the marking and assessment boycott, this means the Board has been unable to determine if the student has met the academic requirements to receive the award. This means we are not able to fulfil the requirements of 'a highly likely to complete' letter and this will remain the case until we have the marking available to ratify course and degree classifications.
In a very small number of cases, students with delayed degree awards who have attended a graduation celebration may be found to not be eligible for an award once marks are returned after the boycott is over. In these rare cases, we will contact the student with details of opportunities to repeat a year or resit the relevant exams and assessments.
If you are progressing from one course to another, or to a higher level of studies, you must meet UK Visas and Immigration’s (UKVI) academic progression rule to be able to apply for your next student visa from within the UK. This application must be made before the expiry of your current student visa permission.
To apply for your next student visa, you must have been successfully awarded your most recent qualification. Since the impact of the boycott varies from student to student, we continue to encourage any students that are concerned about their visa status to contact our Student Immigration Service who can advise you on the best course of action for your circumstances:
Student visa holders who are eligible for and intend to make an application for the graduate route have been granted a concession over delays to grades. The Home Office has confirmed that students planning to make a Graduate Route application but who do not know when they will receive their results due to the marking and assessment boycott, will be able to apply to extend their student visa permission from within the UK whilst they wait for their results. The Student Immigration Service team have contacted affected students directly with further information. If you have not been contacted, please contact the Student Immigration Service.
Further information on this is available at:
If your sponsor or funder requires confirmation of progression to secure your tuition fee and living cost payments for the next academic year, please contact our Scholarships and Student Funding Team who can provide guidance and details on the financial support available.
Marking and assessment boycott
All students’ assessments and work – including dissertations – will be read and marked, even if delayed by the impact of the boycott. For most students, assessment continues as normal.
Your School has contacted you regarding your marks and what mitigations have been applied.
The three possible outcomes were:
It is possible that the Board of Examiners has had sufficient information from the other assessments you have completed to be able to determine a reliable course mark. In these instances, Boards will have discounted your missing assessment from your overall course result.
Alternatively, if the Board of Examiners were unable to determine a reliable mark but had sufficient information to determine whether you passed or failed the course overall, then they may have awarded you a pass/fail grade instead of a numerical mark.
Where a Board did not have sufficient information to determine either a reliable mark, or a pass/fail grade, then no mark will have been awarded. The Board of Examiners will revisit your course mark as soon as it has additional information to reach a decision. However, the Board may in some circumstances have been able to award you credit on aggregate for the course based on your performance in other courses.
If you are missing course marks due to the boycott, Boards of Examiners are permitted to expand the number of credits on aggregate students who meet specific criteria can be awarded. Credit on aggregate means that you can be awarded credit for a course, even where it is missing or failed. The Board of Examiners are responsible for determining if credit on aggregate can be awarded for a course and Boards will generally consider awarding credit on aggregate where a student has passing average over across a minimum number of credits for the relevant year of study. The minimum credits required are provided under ‘What has the University changed in its approach to assessment and marking?’
These credits then count towards minimum progression requirements, allowing you to progress into the next year of study. Where missing course marks subsequently become available when the boycott ends, these will be added to your student record. These delayed additional results will have no impact on your immediate progression decision (ie: your permission to progress would not be rescinded), however they will count towards your final programme average.
If you are missing course marks due to the boycott, Boards of Examiners are permitted to expand the number of credits on aggregate students who meet specific criteria can be awarded. Credit on aggregate means that you may be awarded credits for a course, even where it is missing or failed. These credits then count towards minimum degree award requirements, allowing a Board to award you your degree. Where missing course marks subsequently become available when the boycott ends, these will be added to your student record. Students will not have their marks reduced or taken away and any previous award made will only be improved (ie: your degree would not be rescinded), unless penalties for academic misconduct have been applied.
Where your degree has been awarded, classification calculations will be undertaken using courses which return a numeric mark. If a Board of Examiners has awarded one of your courses as a pass/fail grade, these courses will be discounted from the degree classification calculations.
Where your degree has been awarded, but you have results missing, a Board of Examiners may consider whether it has sufficient information available to classify your award on the results available, however the Board must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence of your performance at the required level to justify a particular classification. Where a Board does not have sufficient information to determine a reliable classification the Board of Examiners will defer your classification decision. Decisions will be revisited when full results become available.
In very exceptional cases, a Board may consider awarding a degree without a classification, in line with our current regulations. The Board will revisit your classification decision when it determines that sufficient credits are available to classify the award in line with Taught Assessment Regulation 64.
In all cases where delayed results become available, classification decisions will be revisited. If you’re eligible, a higher classification will be awarded. Classification decisions will not be lowered once awarded, unless penalties for academic misconduct have been applied.
Most professional or accredited degrees have additional requirements for progression or award set by external accrediting bodies. This means that students on these degree programmes may be required to pass specific courses, and face tighter restrictions regarding how much credit can be awarded on aggregate for failed or missing courses.
Your School can provide you with information about the requirements set by any accrediting body for your degree programme.
Where the boycott has not had an impact on assessment processes, the University will follow our usual regulations to determine course, progression and degree award decisions. These are available at:
As we anticipate that there may be some disruption to some of our assessment processes as a result of this industrial action, we’ve approved a limited number of temporary variations to how these regulations can be applied. We are permitted to do this in cases of disruption.
This is to provide Schools with a greater degree of flexibility to manage assessment processes. These variations will only be used where Boards of Examiners have judged that it is not possible to comply with our normal processes and their use remains compatible with maintaining academic standards.
Allowing Boards of Examiners to take place with substitute members, with a reduced quorum and without the participation of an external examiner, but only where there is sufficient level of expertise to make robust decisions.
Allowing Boards of Examiners to award pass/fail grades (instead of numerical marks) on a course without prior approval by a Board of Studies.
Increasing the amount of credit that can be awarded to students who have failed some courses, but have a passing average overall (known as ‘credit on aggregate’). ‘On aggregate’ means bringing results together to give a single mark.
This includes a temporary variation to the Award of Undergraduate Honours to allow a Board to award a maximum of 60 credits on aggregate, where no more than 40 of those credits can be for failed courses unaffected by industrial action. This replaces the existing maximum of 40 credits.
This also includes a temporary variation to the progression of Undergraduate Pre-Honours to exceptionally allow a Board to award a maximum of 40 credits on aggregate for courses adversely affected by industrial action. The award of credits on aggregate is not likely to be applied to core courses or where external accreditation requirements apply.
The Board of Examiners is responsible for considering whether a student meets the criteria for the award of additional credit on aggregate.
Should these variations be used, you will be informed of this by your School as soon as possible after the Board.
The University has agreed a range of temporary variations to our existing assessment regulations. We are permitted to do this where there are risks of significant disruption.
The temporary variations provide greater flexibility for marking assessments and allow Schools to take account of the impact the industrial action has had on students’ learning, teaching and assessment.
These are accompanied by conditions to ensure that academic standards are not compromised. This includes maintaining double marking for assessments with a certain credit weighting, subjecting all assessments to moderation and ensuring a senior member of academic staff oversees each Board of Examiners. Cases of academic misconduct will continue to be investigated following the University’s standard processes, and the outcome of any academic misconduct investigation will continue to be applied.
These variations will only ever be used where marking and assessment activities have been significantly disrupted by industrial action and are the decision of the Board of Examiners.
Only if there has been significant enough disruption that the marking of assessments has not been completed by the time students’ progression or award decisions are being made will we provide a progression or degree outcome based on work to date, and this still needs to meet regulatory standards. This means that in a very small number of cases, where there are significant missing components of assessment to decide, then the decision will be deferred and then revisited once additional marks become available.
In the exceptional case where we do not have a complete set of marks, decisions will be revisited when additional results become available. At that time any previous award made will only be improved, and students will not have their marks reduced or taken away, unless penalties for academic misconduct have been applied.
All existing academic regulations and policies will continue to apply to all assessment and work. Where a programme is monitored by a regulatory body, for example the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) for Veterinary Medicine, the accrediting body standards will continue to apply.
All students’ assessments and work – including dissertations – will be read and marked as soon as it is possible to do so.
If there has been a significant enough disruption that the marking of assessments has not been completed by the time students’ progression or award decisions are being made, the University may provide any student in this position with progression or degree results based on their marked work. The delayed additional results will be counted in a students’ final mark.
In the case where results are delayed, decisions will be revisited when full results become available. At that time any previous award made will only be improved, and students will not have their marks reduced or taken away, unless penalties for academic misconduct have been applied.
It is possible that the Board of Examiners will have sufficient information from other assessments completed to be able to determine that a student has passed a course and to determine a reliable course grade.
Only if there has been significant enough disruption that the marking of assessments cannot be done in time to provide students with progression or degree results, we may provide a progression or degree outcome based on work to date. These exceptions will only be used where Boards of Examiners have judged that it is not possible to comply with our normal processes and their use remains compatible with maintaining academic standards. When the missing information becomes available, the Board of Examiners will revisit its decision. Where the additional information results in a higher mark or award, the decision will be revised to reflect the higher mark or award. Marks or awards will not be reduced or taken away if the information would have resulted in a lower mark or award had it been available at the time the original decision was reached, unless penalties for academic misconduct have been applied.
Where a Board of Examiners does not have sufficient information because marks are missing, but it has sufficient information to determine that a student has passed or failed a course, then a pass/fail grade may be awarded. The Board of Examiners will revisit the course grade as soon as it has sufficient information to reach a decision.
Where a Board does not have sufficient information to determine either a reliable grade, or a pass/fail grade, then no mark will be awarded and the Board of Examiners will revisit the course grade as soon as it has sufficient information to reach a decision.
Credit on aggregate is where we can award you credit for courses you have failed or which have results missing because you have secured a passing average across courses that were unaffected by industrial action.
For students in pre-Honours years, up to 40 credits on aggregate can be awarded for courses affected by industrial action. For students in Honours years, up to 60 credits on aggregate can be awarded, where at least 20 credits have been affected by industrial action.
This was our advice around summer resits:
If you are required to sit further assessment during the resit diet for any reason (for example, you have failed a semester one core course, or you have been awarded a null sit via Special Circumstances), you will be notified of this by Friday 7 July at the very latest. You should plan to sit these assessments accordingly. If you have not received advice by this date, you do not need to worry about organising a return to Edinburgh or revising for an assessment during the August examination diet. This does not necessarily mean you won’t need to sit further assessment at some point, in the event that some of your missing course results are returned as fails. Students who do end up needing to sit additional assessment once the delayed or missing course marks become available will receive further guidance at that time.
As part of the making and assessment boycott, staff may elect not to participate in Board of Examiners processes. There are temporary variations in place allowing Boards to take place with substitute members and a reduced quorum, however Board meetings can only go ahead where there is a sufficient level of expertise to allow the Board to make robust decisions. Where the number of members participating in the Board and/or the expertise of the Board are significantly impacted, then the Head of School/Deanery and the relevant College Office may determine that a Board cannot take place.
In these cases, all course and programme decisions usually made by that Board will need to be deferred, even where assessment marks are available. Where Schools/Deaneries need to reschedule a Board of Examiners meeting, they will aim to do so as soon as is realistic, taking account of the continuous nature of the industrial action. Schools/Deaneries will also ensure that they provide students with provisional marks in the interim, where these are available.
We know students will be planning internships this summer, have job offers for after graduation or be starting to plan their graduate careers.
If you have any concerns about the impact of the boycott on your own employment or internships, it's worth contacting your employer to let them know and speaking to our Careers Service for support.
The Careers Service is open throughout the summer in the Main Library and the King's Buildings Nucleus. You can also contact the service digitally if you’re not in Edinburgh or it’s more convenient to do so.
The Careers Service supports you for at least two years after graduation and has support specifically for those graduating this summer. For further information, please see the service's resources for those graduating in 2023:
If you are concerned that this situation is having an impact on your mental health and wellbeing, or that of someone you know, please do reach out – we have a range of support available.
The University Listening Service offers pastoral support for students. It provides you with a safe place to talk and non-judgemental listening, and links with specialist sources of help where required. The Listening Service offers appointments 9-5pm on weekdays. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment. To contact the Listening Service for emergency or urgent matters out of hours, please phone University Security on 0131 650 2257.
Student Counselling Service supports the mental health of all students at the University, using short-term counselling and referral to other services. All students (on campus and online) can use this free, confidential service. They offer counselling in-person, and by video (MS Teams), phone and email counselling.
Part of the Edinburgh University Students’ Association, the Advice Place is a professional, independent and confidential advisory service. You can get in touch online, by phone (01313744581), or in person at Potterrow and King’s Buildings House.
You will find full details of support available at:
Exams and assessment
Where you have been set coursework, you should work towards submitting this on time, as usual, and work on the assumption that normal penalties will continue to apply to late or non-submission of coursework. This includes deadlines affected by industrial action.
Schools will take steps to ensure that exam questions accurately reflect the content delivered during the teaching semester.
If any exam paper contains a question on material not delivered due to strike action, this will be brought to the attention of the Board of Examiners in order that it can take these circumstances into consideration.
Boards of Examiners who decide upon results have a responsibility to ensure that students have a fair opportunity to demonstrate performance against the learning outcomes. Marks for exams and assessment go through a moderation process to ensure that they are a fair reflection of students’ abilities. Please be assured that Boards of Examiners who consider your course and programme results will be given detailed information about the impact of any disruption to each of your courses, so that they can take this into account when deciding your results and making decisions on your progression and degree award.
Please be assured that Boards of Examiners who consider your course and programme results will be given detailed information about the impact of any disruption to each of your courses, so that they can take this into account when deciding your results.
You do not need to use the special circumstances process if your learning was disrupted due to industrial action. If, however, you have a unique personal circumstance you wish to make the Board aware of, you should follow the Special Circumstances Procedure.
The Extensions and Special Circumstances (ESC) service will continue to operate during the period of industrial action. If you need to request a coursework extension, you should use this service as usual.
If you do not receive a response from your Student Adviser or Personal Tutor during the period of industrial action, you should contact the Student Advisers team or Graduate School office within your School. As there may be fewer staff working than usual, there may be delays in responding to your enquiry, but staff will work to prioritise and respond to these as soon as possible.
Our EdHelp team will also be available if you have any questions.
You should work on the basis that dissertation meetings will go ahead as planned, and prepare to attend these. However, you should contact your dissertation Supervisor to confirm.
Please be assured that Boards of Examiners who consider dissertation results will be given detailed information about the impact of any disruption to your dissertation supervision, so that they can take this into account when deciding your results.
During the industrial action, the University will remain open as usual. You will be able to continue to access the library and all of our support services, although there may be delays in some areas.
Many academic activities will continue to operate as normal, although some areas may be functioning with fewer staff.
The University, in line with its terms and conditions (section 15.4), will not be offering tuition fee refunds.
The University will however continue to offer support to students who are affected by industrial action. These include the mitigating steps the University has put in place to ensure that students are not disadvantaged in exams, dissertations or in progressing to the next year.
The University has established a Learning Opportunity Fund to support students impacted by the recent industrial action. This fund supports students to access learning opportunities such as conferences, short courses and online courses. It can also be used towards part-payment of longer or more expensive learning opportunities. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are exhausted.
For some courses, attendance and participation in classes contributes to the overall assessment for the course, and some students will have other assessment activities such as presentations scheduled during the period of industrial action. If your classes are running, you are expected to attend these as normal, and no alternative teaching or assessments will be offered in these circumstances.
If you choose not to attend a class because of strike action, and attendance is recorded, you will be marked as absent.
Please remember that if you have a student visa you are required to demonstrate regular engagement with your studies as a condition of your visa. If you choose not to attend a class because of strike action and miss teaching or assessment activities as a result, you should continue to engage with your studies more broadly to ensure there is no impact to your visa. Your School can advise you on how engagement is monitored.
Exchanges and placements
The industrial action is unlikely to have any impact on your studies at your host institution. However, if you require support from your Exchange Coordinator, Student Adviser or Personal Tutor at the University of Edinburgh and they are participating in the industrial action, there may be a delay in their response. If this is the case, we advise that you get in touch with your contact in the Study and Work Away Service.
There may be delays for students waiting to hear back from the Study and Work Away Service. Staff may also be on strike and SWAY will prioritise responding to the most urgent queries.
You should work on the basis that the viva (oral examination) or annual progression review meeting will go ahead as planned, and submit your thesis on schedule. However, you should contact your internal examiner, supervisor or your School’s Graduate School to confirm that your viva or progression review is going ahead as planned.
You should work on the basis that supervision meetings will go ahead as planned, and prepare to attend these. However, you should contact your Supervisor to confirm.
About the industrial action
Action short of a strike has been continuous and effective from November 2022. This includes UCU members working to contractual hours and duties only and not volunteering to do more; not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action; not covering for absent colleagues; removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes cancelled as a result of strike action.
While any industrial action will naturally have an impact on the University’s operations, please be aware that not all staff will be taking part. We want to minimise the impact on you as much as possible and will work to limit significant disruption to the delivery of learning and teaching, assessment, progression and student experience, whilst maintaining academic standards.
If you have any further questions about the industrial action, our enquiry hub can be contacted via email@example.com.