Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Thursday, 1 June 2006 15:41 UK

'Give us marks' demand students

Canterbury Christ Church University
Students at Christ Church University support their lecturers

Hundreds of students have taken part in a "Give us our marks" rally at the University of Kent on Thursday.

Their exams are not being marked by lecturers who are locked in a national dispute over unfair pay claims.

The protest at the university's Canterbury campus was "about students showing their discontent".

Meanwhile, at Canterbury Christ Church University, a debate was staged on Wednesday night by students who support their lecturers' position.

Richard Budden, president of the students' union, claimed the university had made a local decision to dock 20% of some lecturers' pay because they were taking "action short of a strike".

He said Wednesday's debate saw the university's vice-chancellor, Professor Michael Wright, criticised over the pay docking.

"His response was that you can't expect not to work 100% and receive 100% pay," said Mr Budden.

Writing

"But I think the vice-chancellor was able to see the feeling around the decision the university has taken."

Canterbury Christ Church University said it did not wish to comment on internal matters.

Ahead of the protest at the University of Kent, student union president Emma Powell said: "We do support the demands for better pay but we just want our marks."

Miss Powell said many students feared their graduation could be threatened by the industrial action.

Top-up fees

Steve Wharton, national president of the newly-combined University and College Union (UCU), said: "I can fully understand why they feel frustrated but the real subject of their anger should be the vice-chancellors.

"They've had eight months to sort this and we told them what would happen in October if they did not negotiate."

Lecturers are claiming they deserve a bigger share of the extra money universities will receive from student top-up fees.

A march by UCU members headed towards the London headquarters of the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association on Thursday.

Unions have rejected their pay offer for lecturers of 13.1% over three years.

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