Student stage silent protest against marking boycott at University Court

BoycottSTUDENTS yesterday staged a silent protest against the threatened marking boycott at a meeting of the University Court.

The proposed boycott, which is due to begin on April 28th if a deal is not reached is in response to the proposed pay rise being offered to academic staff, which UCU says equates to a 13% pay cut since 2008.

A group of students, approximately thirty in number, initially picketed the outside of the International Politics building; where the highest body of the University were due to meet. They handed flyers to attendees of the meeting, trying to persuade members to pressure the University and College Employers Association (UCEA) to reconsider the pay rise offered to academic staff.

Once the meeting started, the protesters congregated in the department’s lobby, chanting and pressing placards against the glass doors of the main hall, where the meeting took place. The students then entered the room, and took part in a peaceful protest in the open forum.

In a statement to Aber Student Media, one of the organisers said: “The marking boycott protest is being made in the terms of students; we’re arguing that it will have a negative impact on students and we’re urging the UCEA to stop it before it starts by getting around the table with unions. We’re not pro-marking boycott because it is counter-productive for everyone, but we’re pro-good Higher Education in the UK and pro-UK student, and our aims correspond with the aims of staff.

“Obviously there is no proof of the impact on graduations, but chatting to UCU at the meeting last week it seems that even if a small number of staff are involved it can have result in a build of administrative work that will impact a larger number of students and delays in module feedback.

“So the protest is to urge management to stop ignoring the impacts their actions are having on students (who are paying £9k a year) and resolve the dispute.”

Following the meeting, academic representatives from the International Politics department reported positive discussions with senior University staff regarding sending out information to students, and further meetings between the unions being planned for March, with the intention of avoiding the planned confrontation.

The Union also released a letter sent by the Executive Committee to the Vice-Chancellor, April McMahon, a draft letter so students can do the same, and set of FAQs to do with the boycott on their website yesterday, which can be found here (Welsh version).

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