Marking & Assessment Boycott Drop In Meeting

Weekly MAB Drop-in Meetings

These will take place between 2pm and 3pm every Wednesday afternoon. Members, please drop in at any time during the hour to raise any concerns you have or to ask any questions. The link has been emailed to all members as a re-occurring meeting invite. If you need the link resending, please contact the branch.

Marking & Assessment Boycott Drop In Meeting

Weekly MAB Drop-in Meetings

These will take place between 2pm and 3pm every Wednesday afternoon. Members, please drop in at any time during the hour to raise any concerns you have or to ask any questions. The link has been emailed to all members as a re-occurring meeting invite. If you need the link resending, please contact the branch.

UCU Marking and Assessment Boycott: Info for students at Loughborough University

UCU Marking and Assessment Boycott: Info for students at Loughborough University

What is happening?

We are members of the University and College Union (UCU). We are your seminar tutors, professional services staff, and lecturers. We teach you, we support and guide you, and we do the research you rely on. 

Along with thousands of other UCU members across all UK universities, we are taking part in a ‘Marking and Assessment Boycott’. 

A Marking and Assessment Boycott is when university workers stop doing all work relating to students’ summative assessments

We will carry on doing all other aspects of our jobs, including teaching and supporting your learning and development. You can still contact us as usual if you have any problems or questions about your studies or personal welfare. We will be here for you.

This Marking and Assessment Boycott started on 20th April 2023 and it will continue until university bosses make us a fair offer.

Why is it happening?

We are asking university bosses for the following:

  1. Give us secure employment with a stable income, so we can plan our lives – not precarious, temporary or hourly-paid jobs.
  2. Get rid of pay gaps for gender, race and disability.
  3. Pay us enough so we can all afford the rising cost of living.
  4. Reduce our workload to a survivable level.

We already took strike action this year and in previous years.

Our employers still haven’t made us a fair offer. 

The Marking and Assessment Boycott is our absolute last resort. We have stopped marking assessments so university bosses will listen to us. 

We want to find a resolution to this dispute and get back to normal as soon as possible. But it is now in the hands of our employers.

How will it affect students?

During the Marking and Assessment Boycott:

  • Some of your summative assessment results this academic year may be affected. You might not get your marks until after the marking boycott ends. 
  • If you are in the final year of your degree, as an undergraduate or postgraduate student, this may mean your graduation is delayed.
  • There might be delays to official decisions about whether you can progress to the next year of your course.

Once university bosses make a fair offer to us, we will resume our marking and assessment activities so that students can receive marks and be able to progress and/or graduate.

Why should students support this?

Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions.

We are trying to protect our whole university community – including you – from year after year of harmful reforms that have damaged our morale and made it almost impossible to do our jobs properly. 

We care deeply about students. We want you to be able to learn and thrive. This is why we come to work every day!

We are really worried that if we do nothing now, university staff will face impossible workloads and a poorer and poorer quality of life. Students’ experience will only get worse, even though you (and your younger siblings) will still have to pay extortionate fees and get into debt.

We are worried that women, ethnic minorities, disabled people, and working-class people who work here will face even more disadvantages.

The Marking and Assessment Boycott is now the only way we can achieve a fairer and more equal university, for the benefit of students and staff alike. 

More info: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/13501/ucuRISING-student-explainer-leaflet/pdf/ucuRISING_Strike_student_leaflet_Mar23.pdf

How can students help end the boycott?

  1. Email our Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nick Jennings: vc@lboro.ac.uk. Say you support the current UCU Marking and Assessment Boycott. Ask him to please take steps to address UCU’s demands around casualisation, pay equality, pay, and workload.
  2. Tell your tutors and lecturers, via email or in person, that you will support them if they take part in the marking and assessment boycott.
  3. Sign this pledgehttps://www.ucu.org.uk/supportthestrikes 
  4. Post on twitter to say you support the Marking and Assessment Boycott, using the hashtag #ucuRISING and tagging @LboroUCU

More info: https://www.ucu.org.uk/MAB2023

Thank you for reading.

Marking & Assessment Boycott (MAB) Update

Marking & Assessment Boycott (MAB) Update

In this update you will find information on our weekly MAB drop-in meetings, our branch MAB survey, minutes and slides from our EGM last week, advice on MAB questions raised by members, links to the MAB guide and FAQs, a link to join our branch What’s App group and a Crowdfunder for Save university pensions, and save the planet.

Weekly MAB Drop-in Meetings

These will take place between 2pm and 3pm every Wednesday afternoon. The first will be taking place today, please drop in at any time during the hour to raise any concerns you have or to ask any questions. The link has been emailed to all members as a re-occurring meeting invite.

MAB Branch Survey

Most members will have been emailed a link to take part in our branch MAB survey (if you are a retired or attached member you will not have received this survey). This will provide your LUCU branch committee with a picture of action across campus to inform their negotiations with management. Please complete the survey as soon as you can. It will close at midnight on Tuesday 2nd May.

Minutes & Slides from the MAB EGM

Minutes & Slides from the MAB EGM held on Friday, have been emailed to all members.

Your MAB Queries Answered

We have followed up on queries arising from the discussion of the MAB at our GM, and some emailed to the branch.


Are PhD examinations exempt from MAB? No. As per the FAQs provided by UCU:

What academic programmes or stages are covered?

All summative marking and assessment, at all levels, are covered in the boycott–undergraduate, sub-degree, and postgraduate–so it will include all taught postgraduate summative assessment; PhD final vivas and MPhil to PhD progression/confirmation vivas/assessments.

Preliminary comments on chapters submitted by doctoral researchers as part of the supervisory process are not considered part of summative assessment, and, therefore, this work does not violate the MAB. 

While members are not required to report in advance that they will be participating in the boycott, given the close working relationships with doctoral researchers, as a matter of courtesy, we would recommend that you let the student know that you will not be participating in their viva. 

Regarding whether members should/can resign as external examiners: This ASOS does not explicitly call upon members to resign. However, members may resign as an external examiner without detriment at any time, providing they comply with the terms of their contract, that is, they honour their required notice period.

Regarding whether timetabled sessions that focus on assessment should be cancelled: workshops and other teaching sessions that may teach writing or other skills needed for assessment are not covered by MAB, and members should deliver this teaching.

Regarding whether to provide guidance on study skills and other assessment related issues: During MAB, students remain entitled to ask their module tutors/personal tutors for support in improving their writing and other skills that may be used in an assessed task during tutorials, via email exchanges, etc.

MAB Guide and FAQs

You can find the UCU MAB Guide here and the FAQs here. These should provide answers for most MAB queries, if you cannot find the answer here then please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk and/or attend the next MAB drop in meeting on a Wednesday afternoon.

WhatsApp Groups

We would like to remind members that we have two WhatsApp groups available for your use. The first group is for all members, regardless of which campus you work on. The second group is specifically for London campus members. These groups were set up to allow members to communicate during strike action when the use of work email is discouraged. The WhatsApp groups have developed into a fantastic branch building forum, enabling members to stay informed and up to date on the latest dispute news and – more broadly – to connect with each other and engage in discussions on union issues.

Our branch is committed to extending engagement with our membership, so that we can more effectively represent your interests. We encourage all members (both those in Loughborough and in London) to join and participate in our main WhatsApp group. We believe that, together, we can create positive change and better working conditions for all.

We should emphasise that, while we welcome questions and feedback via WhatsApp, it is essential to email the branch directly if you have a message for the committee. This ensures that nothing is missed and we can address any concerns as quickly and effectively as possible.

In summary: stay connected, stay informed and let your voice be heard. Links to join the Lboro UCU and the Lboro London UCU WhatsApp groups have been emailed to all members.

Update from Crowdfunder: Save university pensions, and save the planet

It’s set to be the biggest crowdfund in the UK ever. Even without yet winning in court, they’ve already:

•            exposed the nonsense “deficit” that USS directors predicted as a pretext to the April 2022 cuts – based on a 0.0% asset growth assumption for 30 years that was always a lie;

•            exposed the discriminatory conduct, that could have made every UK university liable for violating the Equality Act for the cuts’ disproportionate impact on grounds of gender, age and race;

•            pushed Universities UK to say they to reverse the cuts after the next valuation in August;

•            seen the architect of the nonsense deficit, USS CEO Bill Galvin, resign;

•            got UUK to say it will “examine” divesting fossil fuels;

•            got USS to vote against the BP chair, who’s planned to reduce fossil fuel cuts, and go into greenwash overdrive.

“But it’s not a done deal. We’re not satisfied until we have a legally binding reversal of the cuts, a policy that protects our planet, and we want a precedent to ensure that pension directors can never do the damage we’ve seen again – not to our pension or anyone else’s. This is essential to end the cycle of disputes over the scheme. We still need to hit our funding target, so that we – Ewan and Neil – don’t risk personal bankruptcy by fighting this court case! If all donors so far gave just £11.91 each, we’d be over the line.”

Here’s the link should you wish to contribute: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-pensions-and-planet/

LUCU Committee

LUCU News January 2023

LUCU News January 2023

Addressing UCU Rising and local negotiations & campaigns

UCU Rising: Update

At the January BDM, branch delegates fed back members’ views as expressed at our recent GM and via email, where a majority of LUCU members backed escalating strike action in semester two and a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) beginning in April.  Feedback from other branches and voting results at the BDM indicated that these views were also held by a majority of members across the union.  Accordingly, HEC voted to call for 18 days of strike action, with the first day of action on Wednesday, February 1st (future dates yet to be confirmed), and members will be re-balloted so that action can continue after the current mandate ends in March 2023, that is, should current negotiations not bring about a resolution to the disputes on pay, workload, casualisation and USS pensions. 

The branch committee is already mobilising for a re-ballot and planning for a MAB. Branch officers have undertaken training on MAB and will produce guidance that is specific to LUCU members in due course. 

Interestingly, new research by Loughborough’s Centre for Research into Social Policy underscores the need to continue the fight for restoration of our benefits, as inflation adds 20% to the cost of retirement, while UUK chooses to cut our pensions by c. 30%:

Our action has already resulted in positive movement on the pay front, with UCEA making an improved offer to UCU negotiators. However, negotiations on pay are ongoing, as the offer of a pay rise between 4-5% was not deemed sufficient considering the insufficient pay rises awarded over the last 10 years and current inflationary pressures.  Negotiations on workload and insecure contracts also continue at national level.

At local level, discussions continue with University SMT about workload, pay and pensions. The University remains committed to the position it set out in our joint statement on USS, which we were pleased to hear from the visiting speaker at our recent GM has proved helpful to other branches in moving their SMTs toward a public statement supportive of improved benefits, as well as to UCU’s national negotiators. We are currently exploring with management the idea of another joint statement addressing other issues in the dispute – workload, pay, precarious contracts.

We have had some promising discussions with senior leadership regarding workload. The matter was discussed at the Vice Chancellor’s Reports meeting on Monday 16 Jan, and it will be discussed in more detail at University Executive Board (formerly known as ALT) in early February. We have a meeting scheduled shortly after this and will provide an update in next month’s newsletter.

Tri-partite meetings involving LUCU, SMT and LSU also continue, which offers a valuable space for us to present our perspective on the disputes to student representatives.

Local Negotiations and Campaigns – Re-structures

We can also report that LUCU has been meaningfully consulted on a new restructure in IT Services, where we do not envisage any negative impact to members. However, we remain available to support any member affected by this restructure. Any member who would like a caseworker to attend meetings with them should contact their area Rep in the first instance.

The Enabling Programme:

The Enabling Programme – comprising six projects – has been established to collectively drive positive change in the areas of Loughborough’s reputation, digital capabilities, workplaces, compliance levels, processes/ways of working, and culture. Details of the projects and their aims can be found via the Organisational Development website. All six projects are now live, with Projects Enable, Workplace and Compliance being the most advanced.

LUCU is regularly consulted by management on programme developments as these initiatives impact on our working conditions, and we can raise issues of concern in our monthly meetings with SMT, as well as via JNCC and ARSNC.

We would like to update members on key examples of Project Enable’s success so far:

  • Changes to the ethics approval process: ethics applications made by UG and PGT students classified as low risk will be signed off by the supervisor without further review. This will remove over 1500 additional checks from the process each year.
  • Changes to assessing student placements, will save over 800 staff hours (academic and Professional Services), whilst it is estimated that the change to a greater number of online progress meetings will save over 4,500 hours per year.

Project Expectations’ workstreams have been defined, focusing on strategy engagement; leadership development; reward and recognition; internal communications; development and performance. The findings of the recent Staff Engagement Survey will also help to shape the project, and an independent review of the inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Awards has commenced to inform enhancements for 2023. Projects Reputation and Digital have set up their governance and Programme Boards and have begun scoping the project workstreams.

If you have a question(s) about any of the projects, please feel free to contact the Enabling Programme Manager Meg Stafford, who is taking over from Jenna Townend. We would like to thank Jenna Townend for working so collegially with LUCU committee members on Project Enable.

Casual drop-in meetings; UCU annual meeting of staff on casual contracts

The first two drop-in meetings with our colleagues on casual contracts went really well. Attendees are steadily building a sense of community, and we were able to discuss their concerns at the meeting. We have since progressed some issues through our casework. We are happy to announce a third meeting on Friday 27th January at 2-3pm, which is open to all Lboro staff (UCU members and non-members) on these types of contracts. To get a link to join the meeting please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk and encourage folk to come along!

The annual UCU meeting of staff on casualised contracts takes place on Sat 25 Feb, online. If you are interested in being one of our Lboro UCU branch delegates for this meeting, please email the branch. More details can be found here.

Branch membership

After reaching a low point in October 2022, membership secretary Marc Gibson is very pleased to announce that branch membership has subsequently been rising, while we have also recruited 3 new area reps. As one of LUCU’s priorities this year is to ensure this upward trend continues, we’d like to ask you to consider adding one of the following logos into your email signature. Video instructions for adding signatures with logos to your email can be found here.

LUCU Committee

Updates on Industrial Action & MAB Training

Updates on Industrial Action & MAB Training

LUCU General Meeting & UCU Branch Delegates Meeting (BDM) Results

The results of the voting at our branch meeting combined with email responses were as follows (abstentions mean the results do not add up to 100%):

Escalating strike action – 67%MAB Jan 2023 – 35%Immediate Re-ballot Yes – 76%
Indefinite strike action – 13%MAB April 2023 – 42%Immediate Re-ballot No – 6%

At the Branch Delegates Meeting, our branch delegates cast LUCU’s votes as follows: for escalating strike action, for MAB April and for re ballot. The voting at the BDM was in line with LUCU voting and the results have now been released:

Escalating strike action – 57%MAB Jan 2023 – 26%Immediate Re-ballot Yes – 91%
Indefinite strike action – 31%MAB April 2023 – 56%Immediate Re-ballot No – 4%

Full question/answer text and results of the BDM can be found here.

The next steps are for the results from the BDM to go to the HEC on Thursday for consideration with the aim of a clear outcome from HEC on our next steps in the dispute. We will let you know as soon as we have the outcome.

Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) Training

We strongly encourage members to attend one of the two upcoming sessions on Marking and Assessment Boycott training. Please pre-register for one of the following 90 minute online training sessions held later today and Friday:

  • Session 1 – Wednesday 11 January – 16:00 to 17:30 – Register here
  • Session 2 – Friday 13 January – 10:00 to 11:30 – Register here

LUCU Committee