Finalist students remain in doubt as to whether they will graduate this year, as the University announced last week that no plans are currently in place to deal with the pending assessment marking crisis following the lecturers’ strike.
This comes after a nationwide assessment boycott began on Wednesday 8th March, in which participating members of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) across the country halted all involvement in the assessment and examination process. Dr Simon Parker, a spokesperson for the University of York AUT committee, said the action “will continue until there is an acceptable solution.”
Academics argue that vice-chancellors have gone back on their promise of large increases to their salaries since tuition fees were introduced at the beginning of this year. However, Dr Geoffrey Copland of the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), which represents vice-chancellors, argues that “the academic unions are trying to force the issue before we have had a single negotiation,” adding that “at least a third of the money currently coming in will go to academic staff.”
Employers commented that figures from the Office for National Statistics show that academics earned an average of £40,657 in 2004-2005, compared with national averages of £28.210 for employees and £36,984 for professional staff, adding that lecturers’ salaries have increased by 20.3% over the past five years.
Goodricke student Joseph Beckeo said that the strike “is unfair on a lot of people especially third and fourth years,” who will be hoping to graduate in the summer, and a final year student who wished to remain unnamed added “lecturers are making students suffer for their employees’ actions.”
Dr. Simon Parker, who is currently participating in the boycott, argued that “the feeling is that the employers are just being reckless, putting off the time to talk to us till the end of this month, and the longer this goes on, the more it affects the students and potentially risks graduations.
“We hope that the University will have noted the degree of feeling that exists among colleagues and our determination to get Vice-Chancellors to honour their promise.”
UCEA and AUT officials are due to meet at the end of the month to negotiate over the current pay demands. The strike will continue until an agreement is reached.