Imperial UCU Marking and Assessment Boycott


Imperial UCU have been authorised to commence a MAB from Wednesday 17th May as part of the pay dispute.

We are asking all staff UCU members involved in summative assessment duties to cease undertaking these duties starting from 17th May, and continuing until either (a) the dispute is settled, (b) the branch calls off the boycott, or, (c) the end of the mandate is reached in October.


MAB guidance

We will be generally following the national UCU guidelines on the MAB which many other HE institutes are currently participating in as part of the national pay dispute so please bookmark this link.


Recommended text declaring MAB participation

You should not declare MAB participation until you are asked.

Once asked you must declare your participation. Some recommended text to adapt for an email response taken from the national guidelines is:

I am unable to attend this meeting / mark these scripts / invigilate this exam because I am taking part in UCU’s lawful industrial action in the form of a marking and assessment boycott. I am continuing to perform all my normal duties other than those affected by the marking and assessment boycott and any other lawful action short of strike, and, industrial action currently called by my union.


Comments, and a recommended response to a request to sign the College’s “marker’s declaration form”

All Heads of Department have been asked to issue a standard “marker’s declaration form” – see Marker’s declaration template – to any member of staff receiving assessments (such as exam scripts or project reports) for marking. The form covers both hard copy and electronic submission.

The UCU advice to UCU members, and, indeed, all members of College staff, is to refuse to sign this form.

As well as being an intimidatory and coercive tactic from senior management there are various issues with the content of the form itself, and, lest there is any doubt, the form was not issued following any sort of negotiation with the trade unions. One major issue concern part 3 which reads:

I am not currently participating in the University and College Union marking and assessment boycott and do not intend to do so;

Employers are not entitled by law to require you to make such a declaration, and it is quite wrong for the College to present a form to staff member in this way. It is designed to undermine the MAB action by identifying, isolating and then intimidating individual members of staff who might otherwise participate. Even if you are NOT planning to boycott, there is no need to declare this in advance. This is true whether you are a member of UCU or not.

We recommend you refuse to any request to sign this form with a short message such as:

“I cannot sign this form as requested as it is essentially asking me to declare in advance that I am participating in industrial action. Following the advice of my union I will not be signing.”


MAB participation and exam invigilation

Following correspondence with members unclear on how the MAB would work with live exam duties, including invigilation, questions setting, and matters requiring technical expertise we have Imperial UCU specific guidance for our members:



MAB planning meetings

We are holding weekly MAB meeting on Zoom each Thursday from 12.00 – 12.30. Zoom link here. Please come along to share experiences, raise and concerns, and be part of a community. Please note these meetings are open to members of Imperial UCU only and we ask the anyone joining puts their full name and department/division as their Zoom name.

Departments are also forming their own local communities of MAB participants with email lists, WhatsApp groups and local in person and remote meetings. We strongly encourage all departments to set these up. If you want any assistance doing or feel your division might be too small and you’d like to be part of another group please contact your local union rep or email and we can assist with this.


The MAB committee

We currently have a MAB organisational committee of several people from across College but we would like more, ideally with representation across departments & divisions so please email the union or contact your local union rep if you would like to be involved in MAB organisation.


Imperial College salary deductions

The College has stated they will deduct 25% pay for each day of participation in the MAB. As well as being punitive, unfair, and disproportionate we have identified several potential technical and legal issues with the way they have stated they will impose the deduction. We have urged College to withdraw this threat of 25% deduction and are continuing correspondence on the matter.


MAB participation regarding undergrad and postgrad project vivas

Following correspondence with members unclear on how the MAB should work with undergraduate and postgraduate project vivas we have Imperial UCU specific guidance for our members:



Appeal to PhD students to decline MAB derived marking

PhD students across College are being approached to take on marking duties that have been refused by staff participating in the MAB. We recommend reaching out to all PhD students to appeal to them to explain the situation, and decline such work. You can forward them this video, or adapt the text version below the clip to send to any PhD students in your department.


Advice regarding the MAB and PhD student assessment

What if you are asked to assess a PhD student, for their Early Stage Assessment (ESA), Late Stage Assessment (LSA), or for full internal PhD examination? Assuming you would accept if the MAB were not on, we ask that you reply saying you can do it but that as you are participating in the MAB you would only be able to provide formative feedback while the MAB is still in progress.

This means you would not provide any indication of your opinion on what the outcome of the assessment should be (i.e. pass, fail, resubmit, or possible other outcomes depending on stage and type of thesis).