Strike Action FAQs

Strike Action FAQs

Dear Student

You may already be aware that members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 150 UK universities, including the University of Aberdeen, voted last month in favour of industrial action over staff pay and pensions.   

UCU has now announced three days of strike action – Thursday 24, Friday 25 and Wednesday 30 November. 

This is a national dispute, and we hope that the situation can be resolved swiftly. We will liaise closely with UCU locally throughout the dispute. Not all staff are members of the UCU which means that the extent of action will vary across the University. Your School will be in touch in due course with further information. 

While staff have the right to strike, we are doing all we can to minimise disruption to your teaching, studies and student experience. 

I will keep you updated on developments and FAQs can be found below. In the meantime, any questions or concerns can be directed to academic services@abdn.ac.uk 

Best wishes 

Ruth

Professor Ruth Taylor 
Vice-Principal (Education) 

How long will the Strike last?

The industrial action is taking place on Thursday 24, Friday 25 and Wednesday 30 November 2022.

Can I approach academic staff for help during the Strike?

You should continue to seek advice and guidance from academic staff as normal. Should a member of staff indicate that they are not able to help due to the industrial action then you should contact the Head of School to seek the advice/guidance you require

How will I know if my classes have been cancelled?

Where classes or planned revision sessions are scheduled, Schools will inform you, where possible, by email in advance of any such cancellation. If you have not been informed of any cancellations, you should assume that your classes will go ahead as planned, although you should be aware that some classes may need to be cancelled at very short notice.

Am I expected to attend classes on strike days?

Yes. You are expected to attend scheduled classes where there has been no prior notification that the class has been cancelled. Please note any material covered could form part of future assessments.

Will all staff be involved in the strike?

No. Some academic and some administrative staff may choose to take industrial action but the University will remain open and many staff will be at work as usual.

What will happen if my lecture is cancelled as a result of the strike?

You will not be disadvantaged as a result of any teaching missed due to the industrial action action. Any aspect of teaching missed as a consequence of the industrial action will not form part of any assessment associated with the course. Where teaching is essential for accreditation reasons, your School will ensure that mitigations are put in place to ensure all essential learning is covered.

What will happen if my tutorial or laboratory class is cancelled as a result of the strike?

You will not be disadvantaged as a result of any cancelled tutorial or laboratory class due to the industrial action action. Unless covered in other areas of the course, the material covered at these sessions will not form part of any assessment for this course.

Will submission deadlines for in-course assessments be changed due to the industrial action?

No. You should ensure that you meet the stated deadlines for submission of your in-course assessments. The penalties for late submission will not be relaxed.

What impact will missed teaching have on the assessments for my course?

You will not be disadvantaged as a result of any teaching which is cancelled. Any material missed as a consequence of the industrial action will not form part of any assessment for the course.

Will strike action impact my Student Visa if I cannot attend a class or planned teaching event?

No. If you are unable to attend a class due to the strike action this will not impact your visa. You can contact our Student Visa team for any other questions you may have.

If I don’t receive feedback on my in-course assessments this may impact on my ability to prepare fully for my written examinations. How will this affect my marks?

Heads of School will know which courses have been affected and will ensure that the examiners are made aware of this situation in determining the overall CGS grade for the courses concerned. 

Will I be able to appeal if I have not had feedback on course work before taking my examinations?

If the learning outcomes that are assessed by the written examinations are different to those assessed by course work, then there would be no grounds of appeal. If, however, the examinations relate directly to the course work, for which no feedback had been provided, then this will be expressly brought to the attention of the examiners, including the External Examiner, who will be asked to take this into account in determining students’ overall CGS grade for such courses. Provided this was taken into account, there would be no grounds of appeal.

Who will set assessments if it is not the course co-ordinator

Heads of School will ensure that assessments are set by academic members of staff, as appropriate and, where appropriate, approved by the relevant External Examiner.

How will assessments be marked if UCU action continues?

Heads of School will ensure that assessments are marked by appropriate staff.

Who will invigilate examinations?

Where formal in-person examinations form part of the assessment for your course, the University will ensure that these examinations are appropriately invigilated on the days of industrial action. In line with the University’s Rules for the Conduct of Prescribed Assessments and Written Examinations for Degrees and Diplomas, invigilators will normally be members of staff of the University. Where appropriate, Heads of School may opt to appoint other suitably qualified individuals to act as Invigilators of University examinations.

What is the role of External Examiners?

All universities in the UK appoint examiners who are senior academic staff from other universities (or in some cases from the professions) to act as “External Examiners”. These External Examiners play a key role in all universities in ensuring that assessment procedures are fair and that academic standards are appropriate. External Examiners therefore play a crucial role in the quality assurance of UK higher education. External Examiners are asked to

approve written examination papers, and are entitled to set questions, based on the course syllabus. They are also sent a range of scripts and student work to verify that internal marking is appropriate. External Examiners also are required to approve the overall marks for courses and degree classification. They attend the University for Examiners’ Meetings each year.

Who will mark my examinations?

The University’s Regulations indicate that the Examiners for each degree shall be the “Professors, Readers and Lecturers in the University (including those holding such status on an honorary basis) whose courses qualify for that degree, and such External Examiners as may be appointed by the University Court”. In addition, the Senate (in 1993) agreed that Heads of School may also permit others without the above status, e.g. Teaching Assistants or Teaching Fellows, to mark assessments where the Head of School is satisfied that the person concerned is sufficiently experienced to be a competent marker. Thus, it is the responsibility of Heads of School to ensure that assessments are marked by appropriate personnel. In addition, the External Examiner system will be used, as normal, to confirm that internal marking is of an appropriate standard.

I am due to complete my studies in January. What reassurances can the University give me regarding my results?

The University will ensure, if necessary, that priority is given to the confirmation of marks and degree outcomes for those completing their studies.

I am an exchange student returning to my home institution. Will I be given my marks?

In addition to giving priority to those completing their studies, Heads of School will also give priority to those who are leaving the University at the end of this half-session (e.g. non-graduating students who will be returning to their home institution).

I am an online learner, what will the industrial action mean for me?

If the industrial action has any impact on your course (e.g. provision of course materials, access to tutor support or return of assessed work) your School will notify you. You will not be disadvantaged as a result of any teaching content which is not delivered as a result of the Industrial action action. Any material missed will not form part of any assessment for the course.

I am a student studying at the Qatar campus. What will the industrial action mean for me?

The industrial action will not involve any teaching staff based at the Qatar campus. If the industrial action impacts any visiting teaching staff or the delivery of course materials or assessment provided by Aberdeen-based staff, staff at AFG College will inform you. You will not be disadvantaged as a result of any teaching content which is not delivered as a result of the industrial action. Any materials missed will not form part of any assessment for the course.

I am a PhD student. How will the strike affect me?

The University will be open as normal during the industrial action. It is therefore unlikely that the action will have any impact on your studies. In the unlikely event that there is a problem with assessment of your dissertation or your viva, your Head of School will put in place alternative arrangements.

I am a postgraduate Masters student. How will the dispute affect me?

While some of the questions above will relate to postgraduate students, because of the specialist nature of postgraduate provision, postgraduate students are advised to contact their Head of School direct with any queries.

Who do I contact if I have any further queries?

If you have queries about a specific course, you should contact the relevant School Office in the first instance. General queries should be directed to academicservices@abdn.ac.uk.