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What Does the AUT's 'Action Short of a Strike' Mean for Warwick Students?

Originally published 11 March 2004

At the end of last month the trade union for lecturers, the Association of University Teachers (AUT), started industrial action at all universities where its members are employed. At the University of Warwick a two-day strike was held on 24 and 25 February.

The University carefully monitored the impact of this strike on teaching and, while it was inconvenient, we believe that it did not seriously disadvantage any student.

Following last month's two-day strike, the AUT has called upon its members to take "action short of a strike" including boycotting assessment of students' work, examination setting and marking and covering for absent colleagues.

What is the University doing about the action?

The University will be doing everything possible to minimise the disruption to studies caused by the AUT action.

The University is determined that the industrial action will disrupt study as little as possible, especially as we draw near to the Summer Term and examination season, and is investigating the best way to tackle the issue.

If students have any concerns about the AUT action the University is advising that they refer to the University’s Intranet for up-to-date news and further information.

What does the AUT action involve?

The AUT has also called on its members to take ‘action short of a strike’. At Warwick the AUT has approximately 700 members. The AUT does not record what proportion it’s members have teaching responsibility. It should also be noted that not all Warwick AUT members are participating in the industrial action.

Following last month’s two days of industrial strike action from Monday 1 March AUT members at Warwick have withdrawn indefinitely from the following activities:

  • Student assessment and examinations activity
  • Covering for absent colleagues
  • Call-out cover
  • Staff appraisals
  • Job Evaluation

No end date has been given for this action. The AUT has stated its determination to continue until its objectives are met. The University very much regrets that the AUT has decided to take action in this way.

We take very seriously any action that undermines study. The University is working closely with departments to minimise any adverse impact on students’ studies.

Boycott of assessment and examinations activity

Members, with designated roles that don’t consist entirely of assessment and examinations work will not:

  • Set examinations or other assessable student work
  • Mark or examine any assessable work
  • Provide guidance to students regarding marks, grades or assessed progress
  • Process marks or assessments (including those dating from before the boycott)
  • Attend or participate in meetings where student work is assessed or examined
This boycott covers all assessment which contributes to the award or classification of any degree or higher education training. It does not cover any other form of feedback as the AUT categorises this as part of the teaching function, feedback that is not assessment is therefore allowed.

Refusal to Cover for Absent Colleagues

AUT members will continue to perform their own duties, apart from those exceptions already listed, but will not:

  • Provide teaching cover for absent colleagues
  • Carry out administrative or managerial duties normally carried out by an absent colleague
  • Attend meetings on behalf of absent colleagues