Why we haven’t marked your work – and what to do about it

As most of you are probably aware there has been a period of strike action within the university. Part of this has included a marking boycott. First of all we would like to express our sincere apologies for the stress that this may have caused you. We realise this is a really stressful time for you all, particularly those of you in 3rd year. We’ve all been there, leaving university, facing the job market with some uncertainty and that’s stressful enough without not knowing what your actual grades are. We are writing this blog as your psychology lecturers to help you to understand our position, to highlight decisions university management have made which threatens the integrity of your degree and to provide some guidance of what you can do.

Why haven’t we marked your work?

If you are not aware of the reasons for the strike and marking boycott then please read this earlier blog post here. To briefly recap, the university has decided to make a number of staff redundant, including a number of members of staff in Psychology. Those under threat are fantastic teachers, researchers and colleagues and so we have done the only thing that we can do – began industrial action. These redundancies are unnecessary and particularly callous in the middle of a global pandemic. The initial strike action has now morphed into a marking boycott wherein union members will not be marking any work until these redundancies are withdrawn.

How has the university addressed the marking boycott?

The university has tried to get marks out regardless of the boycott. But the way in which they’ve done this threatens the integrity of your degree in a number of ways. Importantly, the university has released marks which have not been moderated. Typically, members of staff look over a large subset of exams and coursework to ensure marking is consistent and reasonable – this has not been done for many modules. It’s possible your mark could have been different if moderation had occurred.

The situation is even worse with third year projects which are usually second marked to prevent any bias. This year that has not happened. This means that you could have been given a biased mark (perhaps your mark would have been higher if this had happened). And even with these shortcuts a number of you have missing marks and a classification based on sometimes a small number of marks. Those students whose classification has been based on incomplete marks have been told that when their work finally gets marked their grade cannot go down. While this may sound beneficial this means that if you have modules in which staff did not strike then you are at a disadvantage relative to those whose work was allocated to staff who are on the boycott. We think this is unacceptable.

We believe that the senior leadership have rewritten their own code of practice for assessments in a way that will harm students. It will disadvantage some students and hurt the integrity of degrees awarded by the University of Liverpool.

What about BPS accreditation?

As you are aware, completing a psychology course in Liverpool gives you BPS accreditation meaning you are able to progress in a career within clinical psychology and other areas, this is needed for such careers. However, you cannot have BPS accreditation if you do not have a project mark. The university has decided to give you a document outlining the issues for any future degrees you enrol on. We believe this is not sufficient. How do we know other universities or places of work will accept such a document? If an employer or university has to choose between a student with accreditation or you with your ‘document’ who do you think they will pick for the position? Again, we believe this is unacceptable.

Our solution

We believe there’s only one solution. The university needs to withdraw all proposed redundancies. If this happens then believe us when we say that we will happily mark your work. Also, don’t be under the impression that we don’t want to mark. We love our jobs, and want to get back to work. One of the best parts of our role as teachers is seeing how you progress, seeing you all graduate, and seeing reference requests come our way as you begin your careers. That being said, we have a responsibility to our colleagues and to current and future students who will have to put up with an understaffed, under-resourced psychology course if this goes ahead.

What can I do about this?

Believe it or not you can all help us with this. If you have been affected by this marking boycott then get in touch with the guild, on this email: guildadvice@liv.ac.uk . They can offer advice and assess the damage of this boycott and, hopefully, help persuade the university to withdraw the redundancies so that we can mark every single piece of work.

If we work and remain strong together, then we may just be able to have these unnecessary redundancies thrown out and restore the integrity of psychology at Liverpool.

Blog by the University of Liverpool Psychology Lecturers

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