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UCU advice on response to letter from management about the assessment boycott

UCU have advised that staff participating in the assessment boycott should respond to the email as follows:

‘I intend to support the UCU assessment and marking boycott but will not be doing so until x date when I have scheduled work to do which is included in the boycott. I will not be engaged in marking every day after that date. Please note that I would have expected all the work I can currently anticipate and which is covered by the boycott to have been completed by x date.’

UCU have advised that you calculate the date you would anticipate completing the work based on how long this would usually take you from the start date.

For example, if I have scheduled assignments to pick up on 19th November, and it would usually take me two days to complete this, I would state that I would have expected all the work I can currently anticipate and which is covered by the boycott to have been completed by 21st November. If the boycott is still ongoing at the time of your next piece of scheduled work, you would need to inform them of these dates again.

You should be aware that the employer retains a legal right to deduct pay from day one of action so long as they are clear that they intend to do so irrespective of whether you are taking action on each day or not. However, we have been advised that the strategy which will minimise risk for members is to state the dates during which they would have anticipated undertaking assessment work covered by the boycott.

Please see UCU Assessment boycott FAQs for the full list of national FAQs.

Information for students – assessment boycott

Surrey Learn News / Email to Students


Dear Students,

From 6 November 2014 the University and College Union (UCU) will be operating a nationwide university assessment boycott, which will stop students being set coursework or receiving formal marks and feedback, as well as halting exams. Our dispute is with university management and not with students and we will do all we can to limit the impact of this action on your studies.  As always, we are concerned for our students.  The action will not affect teaching in any of its forms so lectures, tutorials, lab work etc. will continue as normal.  While feedback given as part of the teaching and learning process will not be affected, the action does mean that you might not receive your grades as punctually as usual. However, the university management have threatened that they will withdraw 100% of pay from any staff participating in the boycott. Implementing such a draconian policy will only serve to exacerbate and prolong this dispute. We are doing all we can to avoid this, and will be asking management to withdraw this threat.

Why a boycott?

Pensions might seem not an interesting topic for students as the issues seem to be far away in the future. However, they are important for academic and teaching staff because they are part of the pay that employees get. Salaries and pensions for teaching and research staff have been eroded over the years and the recent attack on our pensions will slowly and surely destroy the long established USS pension scheme for your lecturers.

You might not know but your high tuition fees did not result in the hiring of well-paid staff or in improvement of their employment benefits. However, these are the people who teach you every day and your education depends on them. The problem is that lower salaries and pensions mean a “brain drain” from the universities. Why should very good staff teach you when they can earn more elsewhere? It might not be worth starting a career in this profession anymore.

Therefore, your education is at risk when our pension benefits are reduced.

Who takes part?

UCU members in 69 UK universities began an assessment boycott on Thursday 6 November 2014, and will continue until a better pension deal is negotiated.

What can you do to support your lecturers, your education standards, and get assessments set and marked soon?

  • You can show your lecturer your understanding of the situation. For example, you could write supporting emails so that they know that you do understand that this is the only way to save lecturers’ pensions.
  • If you are frustrated about not getting your assessments set or your grades in time, write emails to the USS ( or your President and Vice Chancellor Sir Christopher Snowden ( He is also the President of Universities UK and therefore he has huge influence on higher education issues.
  • You can also ask the student union, USSU, to become active in supporting our action. The more people support us, the earlier we have a chance for a decent pension deal and an end of the assessment boycott.

Please support us,