Sheffield University lecturers begin marking and coursework boycott

Lecturers taking action
Lecturers taking action
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Lecturers at Sheffield University have begun a marking and assessment boycott of students’ work in a dispute over pensions.

Members of the University and College Union are also refusing to set exams and coursework in moves set to cause major disruption to undergraduates’ degree studies.

It is the first time such a boycott has been imposed since 2006.

Sheffield is one of 69 ‘old’ universities hit by the action – ‘new’ universities such as Sheffield Hallam are not affected by the proposed changes.

Now the UCU has written to the affected universities, warning them of even greater sanctions if there are moves to dock full pay from the staff involved.

So far, only York University has said it will go down the 100 per cent route.

Sheffield University says it is planning to dock 25 per cent of daily pay rates while the dispute goes on.

Michael MacNeil, for UCU, said if institutions took a confrontational approach to pay docking, they would only serve to exacerbate and prolong what was already a bitter dispute.

He said universities like York would become ‘pariahs’ within the academic community through a full boycott, a sanction which had been levied only once before.

Andrew Dodman, Sheffield University director of human resources, said: “It is disappointing UCU is taking industrial action that will potentially cause major disruption to our students. The relationship between academics and their students is at the heart of the educational experience. We believe the majority of our staff will not support this action designed to have a detrimental impact on those students.

“We are committed to ensure our students receive an outstanding education and every effort will be made to ensure disruption is kept to an absolute minimum.”