Student News and Events

News and events for University of Brighton students

Students walking outside Elm House

Supporting you during UCU’s marking and assessment boycott

As part of an ongoing national dispute over university lecturers’ pay and conditions, the University and College Union (UCU) is asking teaching staff at universities across the UK, including here at Brighton, to boycott the marking and assessment of their students’ work from 20 April 2023.

You will have already heard from the Dean of your School about what this may mean for you. This page is designed to help you further, by answering some of the more commonly asked questions.

This page was last updated on 23 June 2023.

Our key messages:

Depending on your course, many of you will experience little or no disruption. Your School leadership team will keep you informed.

It is really important that you continue to complete your scheduled teaching, labs, assessments and exams as usual. Not all staff will be taking part in the marking and assessment boycott.

We are doing everything we can to ensure that your progress or graduation will not be delayed, and that the quality of your degree will not be compromised.

Frequently asked questions:


What is a marking and assessment boycott?

This is where academic staff refuse to carry out marking and assessment duties as part of industrial action.

This marking and assessment boycott covers all forms of marking and assessment processes that contribute to what’s called ‘summative assessment decisions’ for students/learners. This means all decisions about assessments that ‘count’ towards progression decisions (i.e. continuing into the next phase of your degree) or your final degree.

How will a marking and assessment boycott affect my studies?

A marking and assessment boycott can affect students by delaying feedback on assignments, essays, exams, and the release of grades.

We are committed to doing absolutely everything we can so that this boycott:

  • Does not affect your ability to achieve the learning outcomes of your course
  • Does not delay your progression, or the completion of your degree programme or receiving your transcript
  • Does not delay graduation ceremonies

Above all, we are determined that it does not compromise the quality of your education, your progression through your programme, or the quality of a degree from the University of Brighton.

What special regulations is the University putting in place to enable progression and graduation?

Ensuring you can progress to your next level of study and graduate as planned is our top priority.

Progression and graduation decisions are made by examination boards. Exam boards will meet as normal in June and July. They will be able to make various decisions to support students, depending on how many credits of module marks are missing.

The key points of the special regulations are as follows.

  • Area Exam Boards (which confirm a student’s module results) will provisionally award the credit for a module which has some marks missing, providing that 40% of the assessment has been marked, and that the module learning outcomes have been met.
  • Course Exam Boards (which confirm a student’s entire profiles of results) will confirm up to 40 credits that have been provisionally awarded by an Area Exam Board, providing that the learning outcomes for the course stage have been met.
  • Where a student has failed a module, but the Board deems that they have met the course learning outcomes overall, the Board may award compensation (meaning that the credit for the module is awarded despite it not having been passed). During the marking and assessment boycott, the amount of compensation a Board can award has been increased from 20 credits to 40 credits for modules at levels 0 and 4.
  • Any progression and award decisions made using these special regulations will be revisited once actual marks become available. A student’s marks will be able to go up to reflect their actual grades but will not be able to go down.

What does this mean for final-year students with missing marks?

It’s important to be clear that the majority of our students are not impacted by the boycott. We recognise, though, that this is no comfort to students in the School of Art and Media and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences whose progress and graduation is being disrupted by the boycott.

To seek to minimise disruption, the University has put in place the following:

  • The award of ordinary degrees for students who have completed 300 credits, including 60 at level 6, and who have submitted all assessments. Students can attend the July 2023 graduation ceremony to receive their ordinary degree.
  • Where the credit required for an ordinary degree has not been met due to missing marks, there will unfortunately be a delay to students’ final awards. In the meantime, we are offering students who have 240 credits the option to receive a Diploma in Higher Education at the July graduation ceremony, if their preference is not to wait until February 2024 ceremonies for their honours degree.

We will offer graduation free of charge to any student graduating with either an ordinary degree or a diploma of higher education as a result of the marking and assessment boycott. This includes:

  • Your graduation ticket
  • Gown hire
  • Photography package
  • Two guest tickets

If you have not yet paid for graduation, you will not be charged. If you have paid already, you will be refunded automatically.

Any students with outstanding marks will receive their full honours degree and classification as soon as missing marks become available.

I have marks missing – when will I get them?

We hope to be able to confirm honours degrees for the minority of graduating students with missing marks in September 2023. However, we cannot give a definitive answer as it depends on when the UCU’s industrial action comes to an end.

Am I still classified as a student until I get my final grades?

Yes, you will remain enrolled as a student of the University of Brighton until your final degree is awarded.



How will I know what work has been marked and what has not?

You will receive an individual letter from your examination board as usual. This will tell you how to access your module marks and will make clear to you which work has been marked and which has not.

What is the difference between an Ordinary Degree and an Honours Degree?

An honours degree is based on 360 credits, including at least 120 at level 6. It includes a classification of first class, upper second class (2:1), lower second class (2:2) etc.

An ordinary degree is based on 300 credits, including at least 60 at level 6 and does not include a classification. Usually, the ordinary degree is offered as an interim award where a student is not able to complete their full degree for some reason.

Where ordinary degrees are awarded this summer because of the boycott, these will be replaced with full classified honours degrees as soon as missing marks become available.

What assurances can the University provide that my work will in fact be marked in future?

We continue to expect that all work will, ultimately, be marked.

Who will mark my work? Will they be a specialist in my subject area?

All work will be marked by staff with appropriate qualifications in academic level and subject knowledge.

I have an upheld additional consideration for unrepresentative performance, will I be granted a summer resit where a mark is missing owing to the boycott?

This is at the discretion of the exam board, but usually an exam board will not grant a resit for unrepresentative performance where a mark is missing. This is because the board will need the mark to determine whether a student’s mark is out of line with previous performance.

What happens if I fail my work that hasn’t been marked yet?

If you fail work that has not yet been marked, you will be offered the opportunity to resit or repeat the work as usual. Such resits would likely take place in the autumn.

Will there be any alternative assessments or measures put in place to determine our grades?

We do not currently intend to use a student’s previous marks or those of previous cohorts to determine final academic outcomes.

What is compensated credit?

Compensated credit is where the University awards credit for a module even though the assessments for the module have not been passed. Up to 20 credits of compensation are allowed each year. Compensation is awarded based on the examination board’s judgement that all the course learning outcomes have been met, and this is common practice across universities.

Are there any specific courses or modules exempt from compensated credit, and if so, why?

Some professional body-accredited courses will not accept the practice of compensating students for credit where assessments have not been passed. This is typically because the achievement of professional standards is linked to individual assessment tasks.

Your School will be able to advise you on whether this restriction applies to your course.



Where can I go for support?

Your mental health and wellbeing is incredibly important and we have a wide range of student wellbeing resources available for you. This includes Student Support and Guidance Tutors (SSGTs), as well as our Togetherall service if you’re feeling worried or stressed about anything.

There is also support available should you have personal difficulties or experience unforeseen circumstances which impact on your study or preparation for assessment. You can read more about these support measures here.



If I’m unable to graduate during the summer, how will this affect my current visa and access to the graduate visa?

We expect to be able to support all students whose visa is sponsored by the University to access the graduate visa if they wish to.

The Home Office has said that universities can exceptionally extend visas, and that they will accept a delay of eight weeks between a graduate visa application being submitted and a student’s final degree being confirmed by the University.

To discuss your individual circumstances, please contact our International Student Advice team by emailing



If my graduation is disrupted by the marking and assessment boycott, do I still have to pay to attend the ceremony?

We will offer graduation free of charge to any student graduating with either an ordinary degree or a diploma of higher education as a result of the marking and assessment boycott. This package will include:

  • Your graduation ticket
  • Gown hire
  • Photography package
  • Two guest tickets

If you have not yet paid for graduation, you will not be charged. If you have paid already, you will be refunded automatically.

For students who are currently eligible to receive a diploma of higher education, this package will be available whether you choose to formally receive your award in July 2023, or your full honours degree in February 2024. Should you choose to receive your award in February 2024, you may also attend the July 2023 ceremony, as a guest, free of charge.

What documentation can the university provide me if my employer takes issue with my lack of an honours degree?

We will provide you with a transcript of your results to date. This will show your results for modules for which we have marks. Modules for which marks are missing will also be shown.

For those of you seeking employment or pursuing further study at Masters of other postgraduate level, we will provide a letter for prospective employers, professional bodies and other academic institutions describing the circumstances of the marking and assessment boycott. This will include information on how we are ensuring academic standards are upheld, and the next steps and timescales for the award of your degree.

If I have not received my confirmed classification, can I still attend graduation?

Yes. If you are receiving an award – either an honours degree, an ordinary degree or a diploma of higher education – you may formally receive this at a graduation ceremony in July 2023.

If you have been told you are eligible for a diploma of higher education but would prefer to wait until our February 2024 graduation ceremonies to formally receive your full honours degree, you are still welcome to join us, without charge, as a guest at the July 2023 ceremony.

Can I come to graduation in July 2023 to receive my ordinary degree or diploma of higher education, and again in February 2024 to receive my honours degree?

You may attend only one graduation ceremony to formally receive an award.

For those students receiving an ordinary degree, your graduation ceremony will take place in July 2023.

If you have been told you are eligible for a diploma of higher education, you can choose either to to formally receive that award at the July 2023 ceremony, or to wait until the February 2024 ceremony for your full honours degree. If you wish to wait until February 2024 to receive your award, you are still welcome to join us, without charge, as a guest at the July 2023 ceremony.

Why are summer graduation ceremonies not just being postponed?

Cancelling the July ceremonies would disproportionately impact the majority of our students who are able to receive their final award this summer. Students who are most affected by the boycott can also now choose which ceremony best suits their circumstances.



What can I do if I want to make a complaint about the impact of the boycott?

If you have any concerns about changes to your course, or any impact on your learning, progression or graduation as a result of industrial action, please contact your School Operations Manager in your School office as a first step.

Will there be an option to appeal or challenge any decisions made due to the marking and assessment boycott?

The University’s academic appeals process can be used to request a review of an examination board decision, including decisions made where marks are missing due to the boycott.

Brighton Students Union has produced guidance on the appeals process to help you.



What is the dispute about? Is it affecting all universities or just Brighton?

The University of Brighton is one of 145 universities where industrial action (including strike action in November 2022 and February-March 2023) is taking place in relation to the national negotiations to agree pay for staff across the Higher Education sector.

UCU wants to reopen negotiations for the 2022-23 national pay award which was agreed by the sector in July 2022 and has already been paid to staff at the University since August 2022. A further pay increase for the 2023-24 academic year has since been implemented six months early, providing an additional financial boost for our staff.

Since this is a national dispute, it can only be solved through negotiation and agreement at a national level.

You can view the current pay and benefits the University offers to its staff here.

What is the University of Brighton doing to resolve the dispute? 

This dispute, which is affecting 145 universities in the UK, can only be resolved by agreement being reached at a national level.

That’s why our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Debra Humphris, is using her position within the Higher Education sector – including as Chair of University Alliance and a member of Universities UK’s board – to push for a sustainable resolution to this dispute through national processes.

The Vice-Chancellor has been clear that to find our way out of the current cycle of disruption, we need everyone – staff, unions, students and student unions – to come together to influence the national debate, and ultimately work together to tackle the root causes of the current disputes. That’s the only way we can move on from this disruptive industrial action.

We will continue to appeal to UCU members here at University of Brighton not to continue with this action, and we will do everything within our power to limit the impact it has on you and your ability to progress or complete your course.


Katy Croft • 20 April 2023

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *