UAL-UCU Boycott Update

We are pleased to announce that UAL-UCU has agreed to end the Marking and Assessment Boycott after constructive talks with UAL, as announced in a joint statement to staff.

We are pleased to announce that UAL-UCU has agreed to end the Marking and Assessment Boycott after constructive talks with UAL, as announced in a joint statement to staff found further below. Assessment will resume at a reasonable pace, to ensure quality of assessment (including feedback) without sudden excessive workloads for the staff. UAL-UCU and UAL have agreed that their joint priority is student graduation and Exam Boards will be prioritised to allow that to happen.  

We are pleased to see that UAL continues its sector-leading work, not only in pedagogy but also in its treatment of staff, who form an important part of the UAL community. We look forward to UAL’s continued commitment to co-creating a new vision for creative arts higher education. We commend UAL for working towards a mutually agreed resolution of this dispute, and highly encourage other universities to work towards the same goal, in light of our joint purpose as universities – supporting students and delivering quality higher education.  

UAL and UCU-UAL joint statement 

Following constructive talks with UCU-UAL, I (Chief People Officer) am pleased to share a joint statement, which you can read in full below. UCU-UAL have now agreed to end the current Marking and Assessment Boycott. 
We have undertaken to work together to address shared concerns, including Workload. Now that the Boycott has been withdrawn, assessment which was scheduled to happen after 23 May will now resume. It’s understood by both sides that this needs to happen at a reasonable pace, in order to ensure it can be done properly and without excessive workloads. 
Our joint priority is student graduation and we will prioritise Exam Boards which will allow that to happen. 
Where deadlines and Progression Boards need to be re-arranged, this is best organised through co-operation and dialogue in Course Teams. 
If you have any questions about upcoming assessments and marking deadlines, please speak to your Course Leader or Programme Director in the first instance.  

UAL/UCU joint statement 

UAL Senior Management Team and UCU-UAL are committed to ensuring that the concerns of all Academic Staff are heard and addressed. 

While recognising that pay is and will continue to be negotiated nationally for University staff, both parties agree to work together on a range of local issues in the coming months, on a constructive basis, with a view to reaching mutually agreed outcomes and thus avoid unnecessary industrial action over locally resolvable issues. 

We undertake to continue constructive dialogue on projects focused on Workload, Equality and Casualisation. 


The newly launched Student Experience Framework outlines 3 core themes which recognise the interdependence of student and staff experience. The second of these: Academic Capacity and Time provides a context in which Workload can be effectively reviewed by Management and UCU, together. 

We agree to work on time-specific, agreed actions to eliminate excessive workloads.  

We cannot improve our student experience without addressing pressure on Course Teams and the considerable impact of hybrid delivery. We undertake to review Course Leader and Programme Director roles, set against national and local grade profiles. Course Leader job descriptions were developed in 2012, since when duties have changed beyond recognition. 

The launch of Course Support Services provides an opportunity to review academic structures across the board to ensure consistency. 


In relation to gender pay UAL already has one of the smallest gaps in the sector and we are working to close this gap as a matter of urgency. We recognise the ethnicity pay gap remains an issue at UAL and we are putting in place plans to address this through the anti-racism action plan. 

In our annual EDI report 2022/2023 we have committed to publish all protected characteristic pay gap information where we have sufficient data. With this data, we will work with the trade unions to agree concrete steps to eradicate remaining gaps.  

We recognise maternity and paternity provision is important to our staff and the trade unions, as it is to UAL, and Executive Board has committed to reviewing this as a priority as part of the People Strategy work. We will begin consultation on this as a priority to ensure that we have a policy which is amongst the best in the sector.  

We undertake to commence work on a revised Maternity and Parental Leave Policy in summer 2022, with a view to offering updated maternity and paternity pay entitlements.  


UAL has committed to a programme of work which seeks to look at the way we employ Associate Lecturers and the concerns that have been raised around precarious contracts.   

UCU and UAL will work together to review the Associate Lecturer contracting framework and with that undertake to review how the Security of Employment Agreement 2016 is applied.  

We will support professional development for Associate Lecturers, such as FHEA and PGCert, in line with salaried academic staff.  

One-off payment 

We recognise that the recent £500 one-off ‘pandemic bonus’ for salaried staff unintentionally excluded a large body of our regular Hourly Paid Lecturers. As a gesture of goodwill and in recognition of continuing commitment, we undertake to extend this payment to Associate Lecturers who work more than 90 core hours per year. This will be paid in July.  

HE Sector   

UAL is committed not only to improving conditions of its own staff, but also supporting best practice throughout the Sector.   

We are committed to high-quality teaching and research and the provision of the necessary staffing and support to achieve this. University of the Arts London aspires to attract staff who will support the mission of UK education. We believe that this will be best realised if we lead by example; if we are able to offer good reward packages and our workplaces are ones in which staff are both supported and valued.  

We continue to advocate locally and nationally on issues that are important and relevant to UAL and the sector to ensure both the sustained vitality of this hugely important element of the UK’s economy and society.? 



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