Graduating without a degree: Inside Liverpool’s marking boycott
In April, hundreds of university lecturers went on a marking strike. What does it mean for students?
Dear readers — the university marking boycott has entered its third month, with thousands of dissertations left ungraded on results day. But what exactly does this mean for the students caught up in the middle of the action?
In today’s piece, Abi digs into how the marking boycott is affecting university staff and students alike, and what exactly is being done to find a solution. One third year student tells her: “I was so paranoid because I’m from Ireland, and I was thinking oh my god, I’ve spent all this money on flights and moving and I won’t even graduate”.
But first, your Thursday briefing — including a win for Liverpool’s cyclists and an iconic city development’s struggle to source tenants.
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Your Post briefing
Thomas Cashman, who killed nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel in August last year, has been refused permission to appeal his sentence. Cashman was given a minimum sentence of 42 years, which his legal team argued was unnecessarily harsh. The Court of Appeal has now rejected his application. During the sentencing hearing in April, Mrs Justice Yip noted that Cashman was "not of previous good character", was a career criminal and had "demonstrated no remorse" throughout the trial.
Temporary cycle lanes set up during the pandemic will be made permanent thanks to £11 million in new funding. The three routes that will be kept link suburbs into the city centre (from Vauxhall Road, Sefton Park and West Derby) and none of the designs will require the loss of traffic lanes, according to a report to Liverpool City Council. The council has often been criticised in the past for its failure to deliver on active travel promises, and Liverpool is still considered to lag way behind other cities.
One of Liverpool’s most important developments, Paddington Village in the Knowledge Quarter, is struggling to attract tenants. Paddington Village is seen as key to Liverpool’s regeneration, and has often been held up as one of the most exciting developments in the city. A new cabinet report, however, has warned that the project needs to increase its income as it is “currently underperforming”. The report continues: “It is critical that the council has a strategy to let these floors to increase the net operating income at The Spine and thereby increase the value of the asset”. Six floors of the building are still empty. Liverpool City Council have invested £144 million to date in the Spine development.
By Abi Whistance
For some, going to university is a daunting experience. But Hope Reid couldn’t wait to get going. After hearing tale after tale about university life from her three older brothers, an 18-year-old Hope knew she would love it. Arm in arm with her mum in August 2020, she headed to B&M and Dunelm to buy cushions, rugs and kitchenware for her new flat before the big move. “I’d been in lockdown since March, so I was so excited to meet new people and socialise again,” Hope tells me. “People tell you that uni is going to be the best years of your life.”
Now, three years on, her outlook has shifted somewhat. Her first year was badly disrupted by the pandemic; her second was littered with strikes. And now, in her final year, Hope doesn’t even know if she’ll be able to graduate with a degree. “It’s just all been really disappointing,” she says, adding that she’s consistently felt like she was “missing out” during her time at university.
The marking boycott, which began in April this year, has seen thousands of students across the country fail to receive marks for their coursework and dissertations. In Hope’s case, four out of five marks she needed to complete her degree appeared as a blank space on her online results portal this month. Hope tells me she is one of the lucky ones — she’s taking a gap year so doesn’t need her marks to apply for a masters or a post-graduate job. But for some of her friends, these results mean a great deal more. “The people who have a conditional job offer or a masters where they need to get a 2:1 or something, what are they supposed to do?”