Dispute dispatches

April 14, 2006

* The presidents of up to 20 student unions including those at Bristol, Southampton, University College London, Newcastle, Kent and King's College London have signed a petition condemning the Association of University Teachers' assessment boycott and in particular its instruction to members not to set exams.

The petition says: "While our unions are sympathetic to your claims, we feel we must, as student representatives, condemn the methods you are employing to make your point with your employers."

The petition, addressed to Sally Hunt, general secretary of the AUT, was started by Gaston Dolle, president of Bristol University Student Union, who said he expected more student union presidents to sign up.

* Student union leaders at Southampton Solent University have withdrawn official support for industrial action by lecturers and have instructed student course representatives to report on staff who take part in the boycott of exams and assessed work.

* Robert Gordon University's local AUT branch is pushing the university to reduce the pay deductions from 1/260 to 1/365 and is taking legal advice.

* At Nottingham Trent University, senior student union officials are not backing the assessment boycott, but students are reported to be broadly supportive. Staff are reported to be standing firm on the marking boycott.

* Strathclyde University managers have advised staff that they do not accept partial performance and reserve the right to deduct pay. They have said that if the exam boycott continues beyond April, it will hit student progress and graduates in all departments, apart from the education faculty.

* Northampton University union members are trying to spread the word that students are not the target and that they are working to ensure students still get feedback, if not marks.

* At Keele University, April resits and third-year exams are looming. The university is planning contingency measures to deal with possibility that third-years may end up with no marks. Students are reported to be supportive.

* Glasgow University reports no plans to cancel exams. It hopes that the dispute will be resolved before exam time, and it has urged the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association to assist in seeking to help resolve the dispute as soon as possible.

* Queen Margaret University College has cancelled no exams, but an external invigilator has been brought in for psychology in response to the boycott.

Lydia Stockdale

Do you have news on the dispute? E-mail news@thes.co.uk

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