The two unions have called for an ongoing boycott of academic assessment as part of their campaign on pay, but it's now reaching the exam period and really starting to directly affect students. There's also a difference in methods between the two, as the Education Guardian explains:
The AUT has told members not to mark assessments or set exams, while Natfhe is encouraging members to set exams, but refrain from doing any marking until their demands for a pay increase are met.The boycott has seen a clear division amongst students' unions:
The National Union of Students says it will continue to support the AUT and the lecturers' union Natfhe in their push for a 23% pay increase. But individual unions are increasingly calling for an end to the dispute, which involves a marking boycott.Curiously the article fails to note that Kat Stark is also the NUS National Women's Officer-elect. Also, as noted before both here and elsewhere, the recent NUS Conference did not discuss the issue at all.
But while more than 32 student unions have signed a letter to the AUT's general secretary, Sally Hunt, backing the strike action, the website www.aut-boycott.co.uk has secured more than 300 signatures from students who are demanding an end of the marking ban.
The website says: "This action is extremely unfair to students as it may be highly disruptive and detrimental to students' educations. This website provides a petition where those opposed to this action can add the weight of their voice to the calls for this action to come to an end."
But the president of the University of Warwick's student union, Kat Stark, who sent the letter to Ms Hunt, was highly critical of student leaders who were not backing the lecturers.
Something else that doesn't appear to be widely reported, though noted in an NUS press release today, is:
Last week, NUS sent a formal letter to AUT condemning their decision not to set exams and calling on them to urgently reconsider this tactic. This is the culmination of a series of meetings and conversations where NUS has voiced serious reservations about this decision.The Petition against the AUT assessment boycott keeps on growing and it can be signed here.
Oh and Education Watch has noticed the following:
Keele University has privately admitted that scores of students could graduate this summer with degree classifications that they do not deserve under plans to beat the assessment boycott, writes Phil Baty. In a set of contingency plans designed to counter the assessment boycott by the Association of University Teachers, Keele's senate last week agreed to allow final-year students to graduate as long as they had completed about two thirds of their final year.Does anywhere else have this provision?
The senate will invoke an obscure part of the constitution that allows students to graduate under exceptional circumstances if they have obtained at least 75 of the 120 final-year credits they would normally be expected to achieve. This is the equivalent of obtaining a degree despite dropping up to three final-year exam papers.