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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 06:38 GMT 07:38 UK
Students 'oppose marking boycott'
Kings Aberdeen
Aberdeen was the second university to make a local offer
Most students in the UK are against the action academics are taking in pursuit of their pay claim, a survey suggests.

The survey of 1,007 students found 77% opposed the lecturers' refusal to mark and, in some cases, set their work.

Some 68% supported the claim for higher pay, however. The National Union of Students called the Times Higher Education Supplement poll "simplistic".

But it welcomed employers' promise to table an "improved and realistic" offer at talks next Monday.

NUS president Kat Fletcher said: "Clearly there are strong opinions circulating on both sides of the debate across the two million members that we have in higher education.

"We know that some students are unhappy with the lecturers' decision to boycott assessment and we also have clear evidence of support for the teaching unions and the actions they have been forced to take."

Exam season

Ms Fletcher said the survey might have elicited a different response if it had set out all the facts.

"However, like all students I am concerned about the impact of the industrial action especially with the exam season under way.

This is our education, it is upsetting that we are a pawn
Student Jacqueline Berry

"I am particularly concerned that some students aren't even able to take their exams, because of the AUT policy not to set them," she said.

"We are really pleased that both sides will be getting back round the table, something which should have happened much earlier than this."

The Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA) has so far offered a rise of 3% this year and 3% next year.

This has been rejected by the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and the other main lecturers' union, Natfhe.

UCEA's proposal to table an improved offer at negotiations set for next Monday came as two universities in Scotland, St Andrews and Aberdeen, broke ranks.

They offered rises of 5% this year and 3.5% in each of the next two years.

AUT general secretary Sally Hunt said negotiations with employers had reached "crunch time".

The St Andrews and Aberdeen offers showed there was "more funding available", she said.

But the affordability of any settlement is an issue troubling the Educational Institute of Scotland, the union which represents academics in newer universities.

It is hoping for a better offer in Monday's talks with the employers and is not yet in dispute.

But national officer Marion Healy said she was concerned to ensure that whatever was forthcoming was affordable for all institutions.

A spokesman for the employers' association said St Andrews and Aberdeen clearly had felt able to afford such offers but "a number of universities definitely couldn't".

"It's that variation that makes the whole situation quite complicated," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Universities pledge new pay offer
03 May 06 |  Education
University goes it alone on pay
03 May 06 |  Education
Academics' action splits students
21 Apr 06 |  Education
Academics reject 6% pay offer
29 Mar 06 |  Education
Unions praise pay strike response
07 Mar 06 |  Education


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