AUT blame University’s Intransigence
The AUT branch claim that they have been campaigning for a pay increase for 20 years which Vice-Chancellors have repeatedly promised but not delivered. Now that Universities will be receiving their biggest ever cash injection from new government funding and the so-called top-up fees, the AUT claim that QUB have back-tracked on their commitment. "They have tried to deny that they ever made this promise and they have spread misinformation about the dispute among both staff and students. It is this perfidy that enrages staff." the AUT said.
When asked if they did not regard their actions as deeply damaging to their students the AUT said, "As dedicated education professionals, we dislike having to take any action that affects students. But we have suffered twenty years of neglect and we cannot allow this to go on any longer. We believe that students deserve to be taught by, and receive professional support from, skilled and motivated staff who receive a decent wage for their work. If the crisis in pay is not addressed, staff will leave the profession, new staff will not be recruited, and those who stay will be even more overworked and demoralised. We believe that this is not in your interest or that of any student. NUS, USI and QUB Students’ Union understand this, which is why they have supported our pay claim. The sad truth is that the only way we can make Vice-Chancellors listen to their staff is by taking this action."
In an exclusive disclosure to The Gown, the AUT said that they offered to switch to non-marking rather than non-assessment which would have allowed all exams to go ahead. They would then continue to pursue a settlement, and would only have marking to catch up on, which could be done quickly without any significant impact on students. The AUT claim they warned the University that this was the only way to avoid exam chaos. "Instead, QUB management has chosen to cancel many exams and offer dubious assessment as a replacement. Worse still, students may take inappropriate exam papers cobbled together and/or marked by people who do not know the module. We urge you to write to or email the QUB Vice-Chancellor firstname.lastname@example.org demanding that employers enter speedy realistic negotiations so that the action can end and you can receive a credible academic qualification." they said.
The University will be under pressure to explain how students will now be assessed and if their degrees can truly be considered comparable to those that will sit their exams this term and have done so in previous years.