ICU generic banner

Marking and Assessment Boycott: What This Means For You

Deputy President (Education)
Wednesday 17 May 2023 11:19

By now you may have heard that the Imperial branch of the University and College Union (UCU) have announced that they will be commencing a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) starting on 17 May as part of their ongoing dispute with the College about the 2022-23 annual pay award. The College has released its guidance to students which can be found here.

The College has now published guidance around how they will be considering the effects of the marking and assessment boycott on undergraduate students when making progression and degree classification decisions. This guidance can be found here. The full guidance which is being distributed to Boards of Examiners is also available under Annex E of the Board of Examiners Notes.

For courses with external requirements, e.g. the General Medical Council for the MBBS degree, this guidance may not apply. 

Guidance for taught postgraduate students will be updated and released closer to August after undergraduate examiners meetings have concluded. 

As your Students’ Union, we understand that this may be confusing and stressful for you. We are working very closely with the College to ensure that any effects of industrial action are mitigated as much as possible. 

You should still complete all of your assessments to the best of your ability. If you do not attempt an assessment, you will receive a zero. You should receive marks and feedback on all submitted assessments once the MAB ends. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is a marking and assessment boycott?

    The marking and assessment boycott means that staff participating in the boycott will not contribute to or mark any summative assessment. Summative assessment is any assessment that counts towards your degree. Examples of activities that would be included in the boycott include: 

    • Setting exams or assessments
    • Invigilating exams
    • Marking any (summative) coursework
    • Moderating assessments
    • Providing informal guidance or feedback about your coursework, including your likely marks
    • Processing and/or recording marks, whether on paper, online, or other means
    • Attending Boards of Examiners meetings (or other related meetings)
  • 2. Why have UCU called a marking and assessment boycott?

    This MAB is part of action short of strike which UCU is conducting over the College’s Annual Pay Award 2022-23. The College and the Joint Trade Unions (of which Imperial UCU is one) are now also in dispute over the 2023-24 Annual Pay Award and are undergoing ACAS mediation. 

    Note that this is separate from the nationwide pay dispute involving UCU and UCEA, as Imperial conducts local pay bargaining. 

  • 3. How long will the boycott last for?

    The boycott will run continuously until either: 

    1. The pay dispute is settled; or 

    2. UCU calls off the boycott; or 

    3. UCU reach the end of their mandate for industrial action (this is currently in six months time, around October). 

  • 4. What if I need my final grades and transcript for a job offer/further study/visa application?

    We understand that you may need your final grades and/or transcript for your future career. The College is taking this very seriously and is considering how to mitigate this impact. This page will be updated with further information once arrangements have been agreed. 

  • 5. What if I have approved mitigating circumstances?

    Mitigating circumstances will still be considered as normal and should not be affected by the marking and assessment boycott. 

  • 6. Should I still show up to my exam/viva? Should I still hand in my coursework?

    Yes. During the boycott, you should still attend and participate in all assessments as usual. If you do not, this will result in a mark of zero for that assessment. 

  • 7. Will my assessments be affected?

    We do not know which members of staff will be participating in the boycott. Not all staff are members of UCU, and not all UCU members may be participating in the boycott. Staff also do not need to be members of UCU to take part in the boycott. Membership of UCU varies across the College and therefore we expect different areas of College to be affected differently. Your Departmental Representatives should be liaising closely with your Department to ensure clear communication about the potential impact on students and additional changes to local arrangements. 

  • 8. What is Imperial College Union's position on the boycott?

    On 7 February 2023, Union Council, our highest democratic body, voted to support industrial action by UCU, including a marking and assessment boycott.

    We therefore call on the College to improve their Annual Pay Award and address the concerns put forward by the Joint Trade Unions. 

  • 9. What is Imperial College Union doing to support students during the boycott?

    We are working very closely with Faculties and the College to raise your concerns and ensure that they are addressed. We are providing input onto the measures the College is putting in place to ensure that students are able to progress and graduate without delay. 

  • 10. What is the College doing to address the boycott?

    The College is working very closely with us, as well as Heads of Departments, to ensure that any impact on students is minimised. 

    The College has decided to deduct 25% of pay per day for every member of staff who participates in the boycott. Any withheld pay will be directed to the Student Support Fund in the first instance. 

    Staff will be required to sign a declaration stating that they will not participate in the marking and assessment boycott prior to accepting assessments for marking. Exam scripts remain the property of Imperial and therefore must be returned if a staff member starts participating in the boycott. 

  • 11. How much does the College pay its staff?

    You can find benchmarking information, where the College compares its pay package with other institutions, here.

    You can find information on this year’s pay negotiations, including the College’s pay offer and the responses to the pay offer, here

  • 12. I have another question that isn't answered here.

    Please get in touch with me by emailing and I will get back to you as soon as possible. 

    If you have a specific, individual case, then our Advice Service may be able to help. Email and they will respond as soon as possible.