Opinion: Between the marking strike and the pandemic, I will be graduating without a degree – and I’m £30k in debt

My university experience has been impacted by predicted grades, teaching and marking strikes. I have paid £9,000 a year in tuition fees and now I will not be receiving my degree.

There has been a marking boycott this year by members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 145 UK institutions, due to overpay and working conditions.

The reasons for striking are valid and respected – I believe everyone is entitled to equal pay. For students, however, over half a million graduations will be affected this summer, according to UCU.

This begs the question: is the boycott within the universities fair?

The primary driver of the boycott is dissatisfaction among UCU members, arguing that their salaries do not adequately reflect their qualifications, expertise and contributions to the education sector. 

The boycott serves as a disruptive force, drawing public and media attention to the vital role played by academic and support staff in the functioning of higher education institutions.

Through the boycott, UCU members aim to initiate negotiations and dialogue with university management, urging them to recognise the value and contributions of staff and take concrete steps to improve pay and working conditions. 

However, should I as a student be used as a pawn in this ongoing boycott?

Certainly not.

I have faced the repercussions of the marking boycott at the University of Nottingham by not receiving marks worth 30% of my degree. 

The University of Cambridge has stated most of the 4,500 expected to graduate would probably be affected – with students not being able to graduate until their work is marked. 

I am one of many students this year who has gone through years of work not being properly assessed, after completing my A-levels during the pandemic. Now my university experience has been one of strikes.

However, the harsh reality of university is many graduating students like me now face over £30,000 of student debt for the sake of not receiving my degree. 

Universities have given the option to reject grades that have been partially or not even marked due to the strike but the wait to receive the final grade is unknown.

I am one of these students. I will be graduating next week. But I have rejected my grades and therefore I will be graduating without a degree.

Image by MOM from Pixabay

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