University union says Sussex strike ‘will disrupt degree process’

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A strike by University of Sussex staff will cause disruption to the degree process, a union has warned.

The University and College Union (UCU) said the process of awarding degree marks will be disrupted as its members take strike action over pay tomorrow (Wednesday, June 15).

The strike action comes as part of a pay dispute after university employers UCEA put forward a 1.1 per cent pay offer. The union says the UCEA can afford more and that its members have faced a real terms pay cut of 14.5 per cent since 2009

University of Sussex UCU branch secretary Tom Frost said: “We are fighting for fair pay and taking a stand against the increasing use of insecure contracts, which are undermining the academic role, and against the insidious pay inequality that sees many women earning less than men for the same work.”

The union says staff who would normally be taking part in examination boards, which are in the process of awarding degree marks, will not attend during the strike.

As a result the degree process for number of subjects are expected to be disrupted including; law, life sciences as well as psychology and global studies. The union says the school of business management and economics as well as the school of politics and sociology will also be disrupted.

The union’s claims are disputed by the University of Sussex who say the majority of marks have already been set.

Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Clare Mackie said: “We strongly refute the Union’s claim that the strike will impact the process for awarding degree marks.

“I’m disappointed to hear these allegations, as they may potentially cause concern for some of our students, at a time when they should be enjoying the pay-off from all their hard work and years of study.

“Our Module Boards met on Monday and have confirmed they have signed off marks for all of our final year students. Whilst there are some Progression Award Boards meeting this week, we have had it confirmed from each of our academic schools that we are on track to meet our usual schedule. We anticipate that exam results for all of our students will be published this Friday (June 17).

“External examiners do not sign off each student’s module mark. Over the year, external examiners contribute to the setting of assessments to ensure good learning outcomes for our students and to look at sample student work. This work was complete prior to the strike and all processes have been signed off.

“The University has good quality and robust processes in place for our exam and assessment procedures, and we are not aware of any issues at this time.”

UCU says tomorrow’s action will be the first in a series of strikes at UK universities aimed at disrupting open days, graduation ceremonies and key meetings.

The union has also called for universities to commit to closing the gender pay gap and reducing the proportion of staff on casual and zero-hour contracts

A picket line will be held at Falmer House and on the Knights Gate Road entrance to the campus from 7am-3pm.

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