UCU Marking Boycott Q&A: Notes and Updates

Written notes covering some of the questions asked and answered in the recent UCU Marking Boycott Q&A Meeting.

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UCU Marking and Assessment Boycott Q&A.

These are some notes from a Q&A between students and UCU about the Marking and Assessment Boycott. 

You can read our initial FAQs for students here.

You can read FAQs for PhD students wanting to support the marking boycott here. 

Does the MAB just affect marking (and everyone will take part in the exams as normal) or will it affect exams, in terms of the questions students receive or when their exams happen?

  • Anything related to marking and examination may be affected. 
  • Invigilation is covered by the boycott, this means the exams could be delayed or not take place if there are not enough staff members to invigilate the exam. 
  • The MAB doesn’t cover teaching or formative feedback. This means that substantive feedback will still be given on things like coursework, but this will not go as far as marking (e.g. ‘grading’).  
  • However, once these documents are submitted they may not be assessed on time due to the boycott.
  • Moreover, UCU members may not be attending meetings where marks are agreed. There will be different experiences in each faculty. 
  • College level supervisions will not be affected. 

Is it safe to assume that those who previously took place in the teaching strike will take place in the MAB?

  • It is quite likely, but nothing is guaranteed.
  • UCU members will each be making an individual decision about whether or not to engage in the MAB. People will be deducted pay for taking part, so we cannot predict what the members will decide to take part in. People may make this decision on the day. 

Would the faculty be obligated to inform students if an exam isn’t going ahead, or could students turn up to find out their exam doesn’t have enough invigilators?

  • No one in UCU is obligated to inform staff that they are going to be taking part. 
  • Faculties will likely attempt to find out beforehand what is happening and take appropriate action.
  • Some exams in Cambridge and elsewhere have been cancelled to avoid this situation happening.
  • Students should assume all will go ahead as planned. 

When will students find out more info? Some students haven’t been told anything from their departments yet. 

  • In terms of Graduations, marking, and progression, the University Council is still deciding. The SU will update students as soon as there is clarity in what will happen.
  • UCU can link up any academic rep with the UCU rep in that department to get more informal communication about what is going on.
  • The University have issues some details about what they expect faculties to put in place, you can view that here: https://www.industrialaction.admin.cam.ac.uk/guidance/information-institutions.
  • While the responsibility lies with the department to get in touch, feel free to contact them directly to ask any questions. 

What about if students have Alternative Modes of Assessment?

  • UCU advises all members to be aware of students' needs. Processing student requests for additional support and extensions should not be affected.

Could the University choose to base my grades on my work from the last year or this year?

  • There has been no indication that exam grades would be judged on anything but the exams (e.g. not grades from previous years or earlier in the year). Contact your faculty directly for confirmation about this. 

Will grades be marked eventually?

  • The negotiation will bring this to an end eventually. It is a delay, not a cancellation.
  • There may be some sorts of exams that may be time sensitive or need to take place in a certain way that get cancelled, but something else will be substituted to allow students to progress
  • In broad terms, what is assessed will be assessed at a later date.
  • The period of time UCU is allowed to take this action is a 6 month duration, but don’t expect that it will be active for that long. The latest possible date is September 30th as this is the end of the Industrial Action mandate, but it is not likely that the boycott would last this long.


If you have any further questions, get in touch with your academic or school rep, your department directly, the SU (daisy.thomas@cambridgesu.co.uk), the Student Advice Service (advice@cambridgesu.co.uk) or UCU Cambridge direclty admin@ucu.cam.ac.uk.


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