Education & Family

University marking boycott suspended for talks

University library
Image caption The threat of a marking boycott hitting universities has been suspended

A marking boycott by lecturers over changes to university staff pensions has been suspended.

A joint statement from the UCU lecturers' union and Universities UK, representing higher education leaders, says there will be further talks on 15 January.

The dispute over pensions threatened to disrupt courses and exams.

The agreement will mean staff who have already taken part in industrial action will not have their pay docked.

It means that hundreds of thousands of students will not now face the prospect of disrupted end-of-term exams, as the ban on marking and feedback, begun earlier this month, has been suspended.

Pension cuts

The statement from the lecturers' union and university heads says that the two sides will negotiate to "close the differences" over pensions ahead of the meeting scheduled for next year.

"Both parties are committed to seeking a joint proposal for reform that offers an affordable, sustainable and attractive pension scheme, for both current and future members," says the joint statement.

Staff at 69 universities were involved in the dispute over attempts to alter the terms of the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

University employers said the scheme was in deficit and needed to be changed.

But the union disputed the calculations and said the proposals would cost members of the pension scheme thousands of pounds in retirement.

And a number of professors of mathematics and statistics at leading universities challenged the reliability of the projections underlying the proposed pension changes.

There were further disputes about the level of pay deductions faced by staff who had refused to mark students' work.

But the agreement will now remove the threat of loss of pay.

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