Four Week Marking Turnaround – Statement from the Branch

The local UCU Executive issued the following statement to coincide with the “University mental health day” on 7 March 2019.  It has gone to the Acting VC, the Registrar, and the Director of Human Resources.

Thursday 7 March has been designated University Mental Heath Day.  

With this in mind, UCU calls on University management to meet the demand of academic and administrative staff by undertaking a formal Health and Safety Assessment of the current policy dictating a four-week marking turnaround.

Mental well being is not just an individual issue–as management has often implied–but is shaped by the managerial structures and pressures in which staff work.

We have campaigned on this issue ever since the policy was imposed, responding to the anger and concern of many departments and individual staff members–union and non-union–who have raised major professional and personal concerns about unprofessional marking practices and serious stress issues resulting from the policy. The resounding consensus is that this imposed, blanket policy creates a hostile environment, which is harmful and potentially life threatening to staff. * 

Management has responded to these concerns by citing alleged student demand, the decision of a dubiously democratic Senate top-heavy with management figures, and by telling UCU ‘we need to be aligned with our competitors’.

We have said, ‘Not at the expense of our well-being, nor of the best interests of students [who consistently tell us that they want high quality assessment done under proper professional conditions], nor of our professional ethics .’  

University Mental Health Day?   We say to our management : show us that you take it seriously. Meet your duty of care to staff by subjecting your own imposed policy to a basic level of Health and Safety scrutiny.

We want a Health and Safety assessment of this ill-considered policy, and we want it now.

University of York UCU

* if anyone wants clear, if distressing evidence of how bad this can get (content warning: potentially triggering article), follow this link – 

Four Week Marking Motion – Action needed

Please read and act on the attached link below for the Motion on marking turnaround  which was passed overwhelmingly at our recent General Meeting on the 28th November 2018. It seeks to ensure that the issues in marking/feedback delivery is discussed at every Board of Studies by the people who really understand what is involved in actually implementing such a policy.
We are encouraging members to :-
  • meet with colleagues in your own department to discuss the motion and the issues raised by the policy
  • contact your Chair of the Board of Studies requesting that the motion be put on the agenda of the next meeting of your BofS for discussion and decision
  • let our Branch Administrator, Vicky Cattini know when you have done this and what happens (email

To read the motion please click on this link Motion on marking turnaround

Thank you

Gender Pay Gap Report and Open Letters

The 2017 University of York Gender Pay Gap (GPG) report was published last March. At the University of York the GPG is on average 19.31%. Fighting the underlying causes of this shocking figure should be a priority. While the report states that addressing the GPG is a high priority to the University’s senior team, they have fallen very short when it comes to taking responsibility for it and proposing a way forward.

Many colleagues have expressed their disappointment and anger at the desultory tone of the report, and a group of them have drafted two open letters, one to the Vice-Chancellor and the other to the members of the University Executive Board, the Registrar, and Pro-Vice-Chancellors of the University of York. The open letters can be found on the links below, and urge senior management to prompt and meaningful action on the GPG.

Open Letter to Vice-Chancellor re Gender Pay Gap
Gender Pay Gap Open Letter

The York UCU exec committee is supportive of these letters and have contributed to their content. However, this is a joint effort beyond the union and includes a wide range of staff. We urge you to sign and circulate these open letters to friends and contacts who may not be in the union, particularly students. We are the university and this affects us all.