Category Archives: News

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,


It’s bonus time

It seems that it is bonus time again – or, as the University prefers to call it – PRPs (performance related pay).  We all used to get a fixed sum when the University had done particularly well at something, which recognised the fact that success is achieved by all of us pulling together – whether that is teaching, supervising, catering or cleaning the toilets or a combination of all those things which makes life good.  Now it is only the individual that gets a reward and we never know who gets the bonus, how much they get or why they got it (and why you didn’t get one!).

Vision 2020: Surrey branch resolution

In response to widespread concerns about the impact of Vision2020  the following motion was passed unanimously at the branch meeting of University of Surrey UCU on 22nd October 2014

UCU University of Surrey branch:-

  1. Opposes centralised management targets as a means to individual appraisal/capability management
  2. Calls for the adoption and implementation of centralised performance targets to be suspended on an interim basis pending formal consultation with UCU and the other campus trade unions. This suspension should also include any individual cases under the capability procedure associated with these targets.
  3. Demands that  MEQ scores, research quality scores and other targets drawn from unreliable and opaque data sets should not be used by the University.
  4. Calls upon union officers to enter into discussion with the other campus unions regarding concerns with the implementation of capability procedures.

Surrey UCU Committee

Chair:  Lois Davis

Secretary: <vacancy>

Casework Coordinator:  Rob Fidler / Amanda Cleary

Treasurer:  Niall Bailey

Health and safety:  Rosalind Malcolm

Membership:  Leslie Blake

Press and Publicity: <vacancy>

Equal Opps:  Jean Johnson Jones

Teaching Fellow rep:  Henry Hogh

Part time rep: Maria Xenitidou

New researchers rep:  Monomita Nandy

FBEL rep: <vacancy>

FEPS rep: Chris Burt

FHMS rep:  Alison Cottell

FAHS rep:  Laura Harvey

Central Services rep:  Rob Fidler

Web Admin:   Nigel Gilbert

Regional Rep:  Ellen Seiss