The University and College Union (UCU) have recently announced that a Marking and Assessment boycott (MAB) will be taking place in response to negotiations taking place with Universities across the UK. We want to make sure you have all possible information available, as we understand this can be a concerning time. To help you understand what a MAB may look like, please find an FAQ below.

Please treat this only as guidance and not as a guarantee, as it’s hard to be sure of what may happen during this time. Don’t be afraid to seek out answers from your lecturers/PAT, as they will possibly provide you with some more specific information, however this may not be a certainty.


What is a Marking and Assessment Boycott?

According to the UCU website, a marking and assessment boycott “covers all marking and assessment processes that contribute to summative assessment decisions for students/learners, whether final (i.e. graduation/completion) or interim (i.e. progression decisions).” This means that this type of work will not be marked/be given feedback by UCU members who choose to go on this boycott. The boycott will also cover “assessment-related work, e.g. exam invigilation, processing of marks”, etc. More information can be found here.

When is the Marking and Assessment Boycott taking place? How long will it last?

The MAB is set to start on Thursday 20th April. No end date for the boycott has been set yet, as the UCU says the boycott will continue “until the disputes are settled, or UCU calls off the boycott, or at the end of the industrial action ballot mandate (usually six months after the industrial action ballot closes).” Beds SU will update this page when an end date to the boycott has been given by the UCU.

Why is there a Marking and Assessment Boycott?

There are currently two disputes that UCU members have with Universities in the UK. One is about pay and working conditions of university staff members that needs to be improved, and the other is about pension cuts that university staff members have faced. In the ballots for both of these disputes, staff voted yes for action short of strike (ASOS), which led to the MAB being announced. The hope is that this MAB will put pressure on Universities to offer better pay and working conditions to their staff, and increase their pensions. More information can be found here.

Who will be taking part in the Marking and Assessment Boycott?

Any staff member employed by the University of Bedfordshire who is a member of the UCU can choose to take part in this boycott. This doesn’t mean that all of these staff will take part, however. It is entirely up to them whether they choose to take part in the boycott or not, and they are not obligated to tell the University what they intend to do.

What work will not be marked during the boycott?

According to the UCU website, any work that “contributes to summative assessment decisions” will not be marked. Summative assessments include any work that contributes towards your end-of-year grade. This includes but is not limited to: essays, numerical-based work, online forms, fieldwork, practical work, scientific experiments, presentations, posters, oral assessments, etc.

In the case of formative assessments (work that does not count towards your end-of-year grade), UCU members have been advised that they can provide general support, but not any feedback from which you could deduce a mark for summative assessments (e.g. a specific mark for your formative assessment).

This does not just apply to final-year students, and will apply to all students regardless of what level they are.

How will this affect my exams/assessments?

Based on the research we have done, we believe it is likely that examinations will still take place as normal, and that any assessments you have are likely to still have the same submission deadline. However, this is not guaranteed, and we recommend you complete your assessments as you normally would regardless of the boycott. The main thing that may be affected will be when you get your results, as they may be delayed.

I'm a final-year student. Will I still be able to graduate?

From what has happened during previous boycotts, if there is no negotiation of a better deal before the graduation period, then graduations may be affected, and graduation ceremonies could be delayed. This will be the case for all final-year students across the UK, so you won’t be alone. Mitigations may be put in place to allow students to progress, since otherwise graduates will not be able to take up jobs. For example, an employer may base their offer on existing grades you have and then assess the situation when you get your degree award.

What will Beds SU do for me?

We understand and sympathise with you that this can be a stressful time for all students, especially with the uncertainty of what the full effects of the boycott will be. Since we are a member-led organisation, we stand for your interests and rights regarding this issue. We will continue to update you throughout the boycott and negotiations.

Please know that at Beds SU we are here for you. If you need any further help or have any further questions regarding the MAB that has not been addressed here, you can email