Why is Oxford UCU Striking?

1. Inequality

2. Casualisation

3. Workload

4. Below Inflation Pay Rise

5. Pension Cuts

For more information on the reasons for the strikes, please take a look at this document the UCU Oxford Postgraduate Working Group.


The Student Union

The SU does not want students to miss out on teaching time, but that does not contradict our belief that the issues which have caused many staff to take industrial action are serious and need to be addressed. Therefore we have been meeting with UCU to discuss how we can best support the strikes so that UCU’s demands can be met. One way in which we are doing this is by raising the issue with the Vice-Chancellor, Irene Tracey, asking her to meet the UCU’s demands and do everything in her power to get the national bodies involved in the dispute to do so, such as the Universities and Colleges Employers Association. 

We do not want to lose sight of the fact that striking is an action of last resort, and that many students will feel frustrated and concerned about missed teaching. Therefore we are also planning to survey students to gauge the amount of disruption you have experienced and pressure the university to address the concerns of teaching staff sooner rather than later.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the UCU Marking Boycott

From 20th April 2023, the UCU (Union of Colleges and Universities) has undertaken a marking and assessment boycott (MAB). The MAB is a form of action short of strike (ASOS), as opposed to a strike which is a concerted stoppage of all work. Through this action, UCU members are being asked to cease all marking and assessment processes that contribute to summative assessment decisions for students whether that be final or interim exams.

What is Oxford SU's stance on the Marking and Assessment Boycott

The Oxford SU stands in solidarity with UCU strikers and their demands for better working conditions and pay. Following the renewal of the UCU Strikes Policy in Student Council, the SU is mandated to support the cause and organisation of the strike action, encourage graduate membership and promote strike support to students. Despite this view, our institutional aim is to promote the education of the students that we represent, therefore, the SU is also here to support students navigating the effects of the MAB.

How Long Will The Marking Boycott Continue For?

The marking and assessment boycott will continue until the dispute on pay and working conditions is settled between the UCU and Higher Education Institutions; the UCU calls of the boycott or, the end of the industrial action ballot mandate is reached (usually six months after the industrial ballot closes).

What Can I Do to Support the Strikes

There are many ways that students can support the strikes. These include signing open letters, joining pickets and not crossing picket lines, passing JCR and MCR motions of support, joining teach outs and sending emails to senior figures in the university (Vice Chancellor Irene Tracey and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education Martin Williams). Check out the UCU Oxford Postgraduate action group document on this page for more information on how you can help.

Will Exams Be Marked?

Because academics that are members of UCU will be boycotting the marking of papers until a better offer on pay is provided, the marking of assessments will take longer than usual. Although the university ensures that ‘all completed assessments will be marked’ on their ‘industrial action and students’ webpage, the communication of these marks has been delayed to many students. Given this delay, the university has stated that:

  • Where small numbers of marks are missing, it may be necessary to award provisional classifications until all assessments have been marked.
  • Where a more substantial number of marks are missing, exam boards may award provisional degrees for undergraduate courses, called ‘declared to deserve honours’ (DDH).
  • For a very small number of students, there may not be sufficient marks to confirm our degree award on the usual timetable.
  • If you are waiting for results of progression assessments (for example, Prelims, or the first year of a two-year MPhil programme), you may have some marks missing for assessments you have taken this year. The missing marks will not obstruct your progression to the next stage of your degree

What Can I Do If I Have Been Negatively Impacted By The Strikes

If you have been negatively impacted by the UCU strikes you can file a formal complaint. This begins as a stage 1 complaint which should be addressed to your department. If this does not result in an adequate resolution, the complaint can be escalated to stage 2 which is then addressed to the Proctors office. You can find more information about the complaint's procedure here.

Does the Marking Boycott Count As Mitigating Circumstances

The university page for Industrial action and students specifies that if you believe that you have been impacted by any changes to ‘planned teaching’ and that ‘the alternatives provided have not been sufficient, you may wish to ask for additional adjustments such as an extension request or submit a ‘mitigating circumstances notice to examiners (MCE). This should be done as soon as possible after you have sat the affected papers or submitted the work.

What Is The SU Doing To Help?

To support students with the effects of the strikes, the SU is offering targeted support. As always, the SU Advice service is open to all students which offers confidential information on students matters. The processing of academic complaints is one such area that our Advice team is helping with. Additionally, the SU is running a Group Complaints scheme whereby students from the same department will be put into contact with each other and supported to make a complaint as a cohort. You can access the form here.

To stay up to date with university statements on the strikes, please check out the University’s FAQ page: Industrial action and students | University of Oxford