Exam chaos at Liverpool as 1,500 students left without results

University accused of treating students ‘with disdain’ with many left without results and others without complete transcripts, as marking boycott remains unresolved

July 5, 2021
University of Liverpool
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The University of Liverpool’s results day erupted into chaos when at least 1,500 students failed to receive their results.

Students in life sciences, maths, modern languages and psychology were informed on 2 July that they would not receive their marks on 5 July as expected, following an ongoing marking and assessment boycott over planned redundancies at the institution.

The University and College Union (UCU) accused Liverpool’s leadership of “trying to pit students and staff against each other” instead of resolving the issue, which centres on plans to make 21 redundancies in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.  

In a letter to students, pro vice-chancellor for education Gavin Brown said that “a small number of subject areas need some additional time to process marks in line with the code of practice on assessment and to ensure that all the necessary quality assurance has been completed”.

Students studying these subjects would not receive their marks until at least 12 July and students who had assignments affected by the boycott would see a “0” or fail for that module, the letter said.

Final-year students’ classifications will not be changed until all marks have been received.

UCU members began a marking boycott on 18 June as part of the industrial action against the 21 compulsory redundancies, with 47 jobs originally slated to go.

A Liverpool UCU committee member told Times Higher Education that there are other large departments – including English, communication and media, and sociology – where well over 50 per cent of marks are not back.

“Some are being told they just need to wait a week. This cannot be the case as the boycott remains on and strong and will be in place until well into the next academic year if the redundancies are not withdrawn,” they said.

For some of the marks that are there, many are unmoderated or not externally examined, they added.

In the letter, Professor Brown said that if a student drops a classification once all marks are back, for example, going from a first to a 2:1, they will be awarded the higher classification anyway. “This is not only a completely illegitimate way to award degrees but is grossly unfair on students whose lecturers didn’t strike who will not get the higher grade,” the Liverpool UCU member said.

Liverpool professors and external examiners had already warned that the plans to award grades during the marking boycott, by circumventing the external-examiner system or suspending second marking and moderation, would devalue the institution’s degrees.

Students have taken to social media to complain, many citing the need for full transcripts to get on to postgraduate courses or for job applications.

Liverpool Guild of Students vice-president Chloe Field said that “university managers have treated students with disdain and have caused them a great deal of stress on what should be a happy and exciting day for them”.

“Students will not be fooled by claims from the university that staff are to blame, and we stand in complete solidarity with our teachers who are trying to stop the 21 compulsory redundancies. The university needs to halt its plans to sack staff and meet with UCU to resolve the dispute, so students get the results they deserve,” she said.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the university had taken away a day that “should have been a great joy to students and staff”; instead they are “letting everyone down – this situation was entirely avoidable and the university should be ashamed”.

“Managers have repeatedly tried to pit staff and students against each other with mendacious claim after mendacious claim,” Dr Grady said. “But neither have been fooled and they stand united together. This dispute is easy for managers to resolve – meet with UCU and stop the redundancies that both students and staff oppose.”

A University of Liverpool spokesperson, said: “We are working hard to mitigate the impact of ongoing industrial action on our students but unfortunately, a small number of subjects are significantly affected by the current marking and assessment boycott. As such, the University has communicated with students in those subject areas, to let them know that there is a short delay to their results. 

“The majority of our subjects have released results on time and over 98 per cent have achieved a classified or pass degree, in line with previous years. Of the small number of subjects whose results should be published next week we again expect the majority of students to receive their classification. 

“We recognise that this is frustrating for those students affected, but it is extremely important that additional time is taken to process these marks in line with the Code of Practice on Assessment, to ensure that all the necessary quality assurance has been completed.”

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

The managers at Liverpool are clearly totally incompetent and the best way to save money is to sart cutting the useless overpaid managers !

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