Amidst the ongoing UCU marking boycott over 25% of History & Politics (HisPol) finalists have been left unable to graduate and another 35% unable to receive a degree classification. In response to their queries, one student was asked to please stop emailing.
In an email to all HisPol finalists on 12th July seen by Cherwell, the History Faculty Undergraduate Officer confirmed that out of the cohort of 59, 15 fell into ‘category 4’ and “cannot be classified at all because so many of their marks are missing”, while another 23 are in ‘category 3’ meaning they have at least “one mark missing and can be awarded a DDH”. ‘DDH’ means ‘Declared to Deserve Honours’ and indicates the awardee has passed the course but does not yet have enough marks to receive a degree classification. The other 21 HisPol finalists are in ‘category 1’ and will receive their degree classifications as normal.
The email to HisPol finalists explained that “this was a problem very specific to the DPIR [Department for Politics and International Relations]”, as all students in the main honours History school are able to graduate and only 18 are currently awarded DDHs. The Undergraduate Officer added that “we have been working twelve hour days six days a week for three weeks now to try to classify as many people as we could despite the [boycott]”.
Initially students with only one mark missing had expected to receive a provisional classification, but it was subsequently revealed that the Board of Examiners decided against using provisional classifications. HisPol students who would have been in ‘category 2’ and received provisional classifications have been bumped down to ‘category 3’ and DDHs.
In response to a student inquiring about the Board’s decision not to use provisional classifications, the Undergraduate Officer said: “Seriously?! I’m still trying to enter MCE outcomes into eVision. I’ve spent enough time replying to your questions. Please don’t email me again.”
One HisPol finalist told Cherwell: “It is unfortunate that the History Faculty and the Department of Politics and International Relations have once again neglected the welfare of History & Politics students, but it meets the pattern of their behaviour. Time and time again, both departments have failed to properly support students in the joint honours school. This is just a continuation of that trend.”
The University and College Union (UCU) has been taking industrial action from the beginning of the academic year, following disputes between the union and the Universities Employers Association over pay and working conditions.
Disruption ranging from cancelled lectures, classes and examinations occasionally paused during negotiation ‘breakthroughs’, but these failed shortly afterwards. This most recent boycott was called in April, following a consultation with its members, and is planned to last until 30 September 2023 unless another ballot extends this further.
The University’s guidance regarding the boycott was last updated on 21 June, promising that “all assessments completed will be marked” and noting that “it is possible that some marks may be delayed”.
Those students falling into category 3 will be able to graduate as planned as a DDH indicates a student has passed the course, but worries have been raised by students regarding meeting employment and further educational requirements without classification. Those falling into category 4 will not receive their degree until all marks have been obtained, stopping them from graduating over the summer. Instead, they will be invited to rebook the ceremony at a later date.
When reached for comment, a University spokesperson reiterated that they “have taken all reasonable steps to ensure students are not disadvantaged by delays in the marking of examinations and assessments”. They added that “[w]hile most degree results are being released to students on schedule, if there are delays to results being released to specific courses, steps are being put in place to support students’ progression to further study or jobs”.
This article was updated to reflect comment from the University at 13:17 18th July 2023.
This article was updated to reflect the current number of students in the main honours History school able to graduate and awarded DDH at 13:05 19th July 2023.