Last year, your Branch and Negotiating Secretaries reported on consultations with management about the imposition of REFER/DEFER Assessment Boards in early August from 2018/19. UCU consider this to be an attack on our time outside the teaching year which, according to the SHU Academic Calendars for 2018/19 ends on Wednesday June 26th. Therefore, UCU consider this to be a contractual issue which should be dealt with through formal negotiations. Management do not share this view and so the outcome was a stalemate.

We have recently been made aware that staff in some areas are being put under pressure to do this marking. We therefore reiterate the following:

  • It was agreed that this is an entirely voluntary activity, which must be work-planned. Staff who are under pressure should remind managers of this and decline the work.
  • Staff who do this work voluntarily can carry over more than 3 days annual leave if required. Make sure that you get this agreed in writing.
  • Management have [still] not responded to our concerns about the impact of this move on quality and the student experience i.e. what will happen if module staff are on leave or do not volunteer? Who will mark the students’ work?
  • UCU have had no meaningful response to our concerns about equality impact: this work takes place in the first weeks of the school holidays and thus could have an additional detrimental impact on staff with school aged children.

As ever, it is better to act together than alone, so if possible respond to this in teaching teams or subject groups so that pressure cannot be applied to individuals.

If you want UCU support with your particular situation, please ask your local rep, attend one of the drop-ins after branch meetings or make an appointment at a surgery by contacting

SHU UCU Branch Committee