The University of Oxford has confirmed that approximately 400 students have been provisionally given unclassified degrees in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by Cherwell. While these students will be able to graduate, they will do so without provisionally knowing what class degree they are receiving.
Of the approximately 3,300 undergraduates and 6,000 postgraduates that make up over 9,000 yearly taught course graduates, 5% will graduate without fully confirmed degrees. Despite a small number being given provisional classifications, the majority of students affected, accounting for roughly 400 undergraduates and postgraduates, hold unclassified degrees.
The FOI request also revealed that 33 students, comprising 5 undergraduates and 28 taught postgraduates, are unable to graduate due to boycott-related incomplete results, as of 22 August.
19 subjects ranging across all four academic divisions – humanities, social sciences, medical sciences, and mathematical, physical and life sciences – have reported some impact from the boycott.*
In response to the FOI request submitted by Cherwell on 6 July, the University initially requested a one-week extension on the day the request was due, in order to compile the relevant information. Following this, the FOI was returned and Cherwell was told that no full record of the students nor the subjects affected was held.
In further correspondence with the University’s Information Compliance Team, Cherwell noted that preliminary numbers must be available. On 17 August, the University stated they would find and provide preliminary figures, which Cherwell then received on 28 August, 53 days after the FOI was submitted.
Students have previously criticised the University for its lack of transparency in dealing with the boycott. One History and Politics student told Cherwell: “We had to piece together all the evidence, so very much student detective work given the uni’s preference for things to remain very opaque.”
A full record of students affected is expected in November, when all exam results will have processed and exam boards met. The University’s guidance regarding the boycott, last updated on 23 August, states that all assessments will be marked, even if marks are delayed.
However, the University and College Union (UCU) previously announced that its Higher Education Committee voted to “take further strike action before the end of September and to begin preparations for a new ballot in order to renew UCU’s industrial mandate in the pay and working conditions dispute.” The re-ballot, expected to take place before 30 September, could prolong disruption into 2024.
In a statement to Cherwell, the University said: “While recognising the right to take industrial action, we regret the impact the UCU’s marking and assessment boycott is having on some students.
“The overwhelming majority of examinations and assessments have taken place as planned, and in most cases the mitigating actions taken by departments have enabled the vast majority of students to graduate. We are grateful to colleagues across the University for their hard work in managing this situation and minimising the impact on students as far as possible.”
The University further stated that they are working on minimising delays and supporting students progressing to further study or jobs.
* The full list of affected subjects includes Anthropology, Area Studies, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Biochemistry, Computer Science, International Development, English, Experimental Psychology, Geography, History, Human Sciences, Law, Maths, Modern Languages, Linguistics, Physics, Politics, Social Data Science/Social Science of the Internet, and Social Policy and Intervention.