UCL-UCU - Local FAQs on the marking and assessment boycott are now live

2 May 2023

Information on actions relating to the MAB we are asking members to take, our latest version of the FAQs on the MAB, and an update on how we are fighting UCL’s punitive salary deductions

“I wanted you to know that I do support you in the boycott. I don’t mind waiting for my grades if it means my lecturers can afford to live in the same city they work in!” - First year IOE student

We want to thank everyone who is following our advice about reporting, MABing, and pledging. We are aware that UCL is having problems putting in place contingencies for MAB action they cannot predict. The MAB is already having a significant effect, thanks to you, despite management’s ongoing attempts to stifle participation. Let’s keep on making it work!

1. Urgent actions

  1. Don’t report your participation in the boycott! UCL have agreed to a 2 week delay in their deadline for reporting your participation in the MAB (until May 12), while negotiations are ongoing. UCL UCU’s position is still that you don’t need to report participation until the work is actually due.
  2. Remember that refusing to take on marking from boycotting colleagues does not count as joining the boycott. UCL have now confirmed that no one will suffer pay deductions for refusing to take on the work of colleagues who have joined the boycott. This would constitute additional work and there is no obligation to accept it.
  3. Sign up to our Solidarity Pledge scheme: https://forms.gle/qcgyz3yuJT34amtd9 If you can’t MAB yourself, or if you think it’s not strategic for you to do so, then please pledge to support others. If 6 people pledge half a days’ pay a week then we can spread the costs so that no one loses more than 5.2 days’ pay in total.
  4. Join our regular online Solidari-Teas to chat about the MAB, ask any questions you might have, and show our support for one another.The next one is on Friday 05/05 at 4pm - please check your email or contact ucu@ucl.ac.uk for the link. 

2. Local FAQs

Very few of us have taken part in a marking and assessment boycott before, so there are lots of questions that need answering:

Our local UCL UCU FAQs are now live: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vt2Lh81udiMaoaxqR51rmH1y-QXDkXEu_BP05WHHUA8/edit#.

You can also see national UCU MAB FAQs. And get in touch with ucu@ucl.ac.uk if you have any other questions.

Please remember that all of this guidance assumes that UCL continues with their plan for a punitive 36.5 days’ flat rate pay deductions. But together we can stop this. UCL is a national outlier - very few universities have decided to be as aggressive as UCL, and other institutions are already backing down under pressure from staff and saying that there will be no deductions whatsoever (e.g. University of Hertfordshire and Queen Mary). That is why last week UCL UCU members voted to threaten UCL with strike action targeted to hit exam boards if they do not reconsider.

All negotiations going forward will include debate about deductions and when missed marking can be returned at the end of the MAB. This means we don’t always have clear answers right now, but we will be fighting to ensure that deductions are kept to a minimum and that we are given reasonable deadlines for any overdue marking work.

3. Fighting against UCL’s deductions scheme

The fight against punitive deductions continues. Our negotiators will be meeting with UCL management again to discuss the proportionality, or rather lack of it, in deductions that do not correspond with actual workload allocations for marking and assessment. In the meantime, here are some ideas for what you can do right now: 

UCL UCU Executive Committee



Linda is a Module Leader at UCL. She marks group project work and it will take her less than one day to do it. If Linda participates in UCU's Marking & Assessment Boycott, UCL have threatened to deduct 36.5 day's pay