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All Geography Prelims candidates allowed to progress to second year amidst marking boycott

In response to the UCU marking boycott, all first-year Geography students whose exams have been affected by the boycott will automatically be allowed to progress to the second year of their course. No Geography students will receive their marks before the 30th of September, the anticipated end of the boycott. 

Since the UCU may ballot its members for further industrial action, the students were told that no firm date could be set for the release of exam marks. The Geography Department informed students in an email seen by Cherwell that it would not retroactively prohibit students from progressing to their second year or require a retake of exams if they received a fail mark on any assessment. For such students, the department will instead “consider how best to support [their] learning and address any concerns over [their] academic progress.”

All this, the rising second-year students were told, is in line with the “procedure approved by the University, which is designed to get your marks to you as quickly and fairly as possible, while maintaining the rigorous quality of our awards, and giving you some certainty about plans for the coming year.”

The University-wide approach, Cherwell has been told, is that progression decisions are made on the basis of the marks available at the time of the exam board meeting. If some marks are available and include fails, then those fails will be treated as normal. If no marks are available, then all students will progress, with the marks being expected to be released after the boycott ends.

A Geography student from Hertford College told Cherwell: “I think the University’s decision regarding the marking of Geography Prelims exam papers is the fairest outcome of this situation. We’ve sat all our exams and submitted all coursework assessments. While I fully understand the importance of the marking and assessment boycott, I hope to receive some feedback soon.”

Another student said: “The other geographers and I are pretty relieved at the decision to automatically pass our exams. There was enough stress involved anyway, and we think it’d be unfair of them to handle it any other way (like making us retake them later on in Michaelmas etc.).”

As communicated in a statement to Cherwell, the broader university’s official policy has been “to recognize the right of [the markers] to take industrial action” while “working to minimize disruption.”

The University’s guidance for students regarding the UCU’s industrial action was last updated on 21 June 2023.

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