Northern Ireland

Ulster University: Strike-hit students may get marks increased

Protest at UU Magee
Image caption The strike was called in protest against changes to lecturers' pensions

Some Ulster University (UU) students could have exam marks increased if their courses were affected by strikes.

A number of classes at UU were cancelled earlier this year due to strike action by the University and College Union (UCU).

The university has analysed marks for affected courses to see if they are lower than in previous years.

If that is the case, it recommends that students taking those courses have their marks increased.

However, the UCU has criticised the university's plans as it said that lecturers had already ensured that students were not disadvantaged by the industrial action.

'Unacceptable'

In an email to members, seen by the BBC, the UCU called the university's plans "completely unacceptable".

"The university has taken unilateral action to adjust the marks in some courses to mitigate for the industrial action taken earlier in the year," it said.

The union said it questioned the fairness and equity in the methodology being used to increase marks.

"After the strike, we advised members to take local decisions on exam and coursework to ensure students were not disadvantaged by the industrial action," the email continued.

"We know that many of you rewrote exam papers, provided additional online material or extracted untaught elements of coursework from marking grids."

Image caption The strike also affected Queen's University in Belfast

The union said it was incredible that the university authorities thought it appropriate to impose a blanket solution on courses that had already been reviewed.

The email said staff could not be asked to "stand over this unilateral and completely unaccountable approach."

However, a spokesperson for the university said that it was committed to ensuring that students were not disadvantaged and that academic standards were protected.

'Lower than expected'

They also said that UU had conducted an analysis of course modules affected by the strike to see if marks were lower than expected.

"This process compared a module's mark average to the module mark averages from the previous three years, with appropriate controls in place," they said.

The university spokesperson declined to specify how many courses were involved.

However, the university said it would still be up to university exam boards, who meet to moderate and approve marks for each course, to decide on the final marks awarded to students.

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