27 JUNE 2023 | INVESTIGATIONS
Final-year students at Edinburgh University are organising protests for their summer graduation ceremonies amid the nationwide marking boycott.
It comes as students voice their anger in backlash to the news that around 2,000 Edinburgh students will graduate without a degree classification.
The ongoing marking boycott, affecting more than 140 institutions across the UK, means that thousands of final-year students will finish university without their work being graded.
Wolves understands that students are planning a number of protests at graduation ceremonies taking place over July.
One source, whose graduation is set to take place on Thursday 13th, said that students are organising demonstrations via group chats.
“Plans vary for different ceremonies, but I’m in a group chat with fellow [School of Social and Political Science] students to discuss what to do on the morning of the 13th when ours is.
“The most extreme scenario is that people are saying they won’t attend their graduation and will protest outside McEwan Hall instead.
“Some say they’ll attend, but not wear robes or wear a sash or badge with a protest slogan on it. [Some have planned to] refuse to shake the Vice-Chancellor’s hand.”
The source added that students have also suggested holding an alternative graduation ceremony.
Another told Wolves: “There’s talk of organising larger protests along with the UCU, and also the idea of making T-shirts and pins to be worn at graduation ceremonies.”
Protests are anticipated at a number of universities across the UK where students have felt the most severe impact of the lecturers’ strikes.
Wolves understands that Durham, Cambridge and Manchester universities are all likely to see student demonstrations at graduation ceremonies throughout the summer.
In response to the increasing suggestion of protests, Edinburgh University said: “We are acutely aware that delays associated with the boycott are a major source of anxiety for our students, and we are deeply sorry about the continued uncertainty they face over their futures.
“Graduations are continuing as planned. All students who have been awarded their degree, final or provisional, or who are awaiting a final decision on their degree outcome, will be able to participate in a ceremony.
“Students who do not yet have an award can choose to defer to a future ceremony if they prefer.
“We fully understand the strength of feeling around these issues. Graduation day marks the culmination of years of hard work, in difficult circumstances for this particular cohort. We sincerely hope our students can celebrate their time with us and the day itself.”
However, the university would not comment on whether it is expecting protests.
One parent of an Edinburgh student expressed her “anger” at the challenge thousands now face as their post-graduate plans have been thwarted.
She said: “My daughter and her friends are all fed up. They’ve had so much to put up with over the last four years and they’re tired and beaten.
“I believe the troops are now rallying, though. [I’m tired of] them being polite and non-confrontational – this is the time to fight for your rights and do not accept this.”
The parent added that the situation is “disgusting”. She feels “angry and frustrated that this hasn’t been dealt with” and said it is “despairing that it’s only some schools and some universities affected”.
“My daughter puts her heart and soul into everything she does, and that takes its toll when things turn out so unjustly.
“As a lot of her generation starting university was plagued by Covid, strikes, more Covid, more strikes – what an emotional strain that took, as well as mental, physical and financial.”
The UCU’s marking and assessment boycott is a nationally developing story and Wolves will continue to bring you the developments as they come.