Lecturers’ Exam Boycott a Bluff, Admits AUT Chief

Lecturers will back down over threats to boycott assessment and examination work in order to avoid placing student’s degrees in danger, according to a senior AUT official

The high-ranking admission will come as a relief to many fraught final year students concerned about the impact of the action on the completion of their degrees.

“We have no wish to ruin the lives of students by cancelling and dragging out their degree dates. We wanted a short, sharp, shock campaign against employers, but if that will not work, I don’t think we’d have the stomach to take it any further,” the source revealed.

Although welcome news for most students, the shock announcement will enrage ardent supporters of sustained strike action, who see it as the only means to ensure crucial terms are delivered over pay.

York Politics lecturer, Rob Aitken, has said that tangible disruption needs to be made. “We can’t make any progress by having a one-off stike, but by boycotting exams and assessments.”

For Dr Aitken, the dispute’s significance extends wider than one which is simply based on pay. He insists real principles are at stake.

“Lecturers have been the victims of chronic underfunding for decades. We must make our stand now, before our pay scale slides out of control even further.”

The revelation this week is at odds with a letter currently being drafted to students asking them to be patient and brace themselves for further unrelenting strike action, unless union conditions over pay talks are met, throwing doubt over the solidarity of certain parts of the AUT.

The letter states: “As you will understand, we cannot accept a pay offer which will actually reduce earnings for many, would lead to job insecurity and would weaken our union's ability to negotiate.”

The news that threats of further strike action may not be carried out will also delight concerned Vice Chancellor, Brian Cantor and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Felicity Riddy, who admitted this week that the decisions surrounding reconciliation talks were “out of their hands” and must come instead from a national level.

Despite the VC’s position, York AUT memebers have pleaded for the Vice Chancellor to apply pressure to UCEA, the national negotiating body, to withdraw its earnings-cutting proposals and resume meaningful national talks.

Although degree complications are, for most students, still only a threat, one student is already suffering the consequences. Denise Aghanianis, an unemployed single mother of four may miss out in applying for her dream job because of delays in her PhD. She had wanted to have finished her PhD by February, in time for a top research post at Cambridge University. However, she missed out on the interview because her viva had been postponed indefinitely. “This could seriously damage my job prospects” she said.

In the event that lecturers don’t back down, the number of incidents like this are likely to explode. However, the AUT may buckle, and the threat will evaporate for the time being.

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