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Father says son 'lost faith' in university amid wait for degree marks

A father has shared how his son has suffered due to an assessment and marking boycott
A father has shared how his son has suffered due to an assessment and marking boycott

A father said his son has suffered greatly due to not receiving his degree because of ongoing industrial action.

Stephen Baldwin‘s son, Jack, was due to graduate from the University of Sussex this year but is yet to have received his degree as many of his assessments are yet to be marked due to a University and College Union (UCU) boycott.

Now, Stephen blames the university for not resolving the issue.

Stephen, 60, said: “Jack has lost faith in everything. He says he has totally wasted three years of his life.

The Argus: Stephen Baldwin
The Argus: Stephen Baldwin

Stephen Baldwin (Image: Stephen Baldwin)

"The people who are most affected by this are the students. If you are going for a job and you don’t have a degree but a letter from your university, employers are going to pick other people.

“I have no problem with UCU’s grievance, that’s their problem. I don’t understand how this has been allowed to happen.”

Jack, 21, a politics and law student, was part of the first group of students to complete all of their GCSEs with the new numbered grading. He was also in the cohort of A-level students whose grades were decided by an algorithm rather than exams due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following a complaint to the university, Stephen, from Burwash, says he was offered a £385 payment but that he would be declining this as he feels it is too little.

He also added that Jack decided not to attend his graduation as, because of the boycott, Jack would only have received a handshake and not his degree.

A University of Sussex spokeswoman said: “We know this has been a challenging time for many students.


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"While this is a national issue affecting over 140 universities and needs to be resolved at a national level, we have been doing everything we can to support our affected students.

“Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sasha Roseneil, is continuing to do all she can to influence the national situation.

"Earlier this summer, together with the local UCU branch, she called for national negotiations to restart. The joint statement with the local UCU branch pointed to the long-term under-funding of the sector. We hope for rapid progress towards a resolution.”

In a joint statement with the University of Sussex Student’s Union, a Sussex UCU spokesman said: “We understand graduation is a day for students, for their celebration and their voice, and we are seeking to respect this.

“It is vital however that we also recognise that this is not an ordinary graduation, and the University has sold out our students, giving them ‘ordinary degrees’ or predicted classifications in lieu of the qualifications students need to study, work, and live.”

Dr Daniel Molto, Sussex UCU branch co-vicepresident, said:

“As lecturers and educators, we are very upset every time we hear about a student who has been suffering as a result of the marking boycott.

"As union members we reflect very hard on whether to take action, because we know that people we care about will be impacted.

"We take action only when we know that the conditions of too many of our own members has itself become intolerable, including the many staff employed on temporary contracts for years, struggling to support themselves on salaries that have fallen by 25% in real terms since 2009.

"We also take action only when we know that the universities employer’s association can easily bring an end to the dispute before a single student is impacted by engaging in good faith negotiation. We are in equal measure devastated and furious that this has not happened.

"We note that increasing numbers of students are asking for refunds and we support them. We also note that increasing numbers of parents are wondering whether to advise their children to avoid university altogether. As long as staff are treated with contempt by their employers, this is a perfectly reasonable question to be asking.”