Edinburgh University marking boycott: Students chant 'pay your workers' in protest at graduation ceremony

Students were told to ‘keep it professional’ at the ceremony after calling on the University to pay its workers.

Edinburgh students were told to shush as they chanted "pay your workers" at a graduation ceremony in a show of support for staff who are campaigning for better pay and conditions.

A vice-principal of Edinburgh University is captured warning students to “settle down” and “keep it professional” in video footage of the ceremony shared on social media. Students heckled at the graduation event on Tuesday, during which author Sinead Burke was awarded an honorary degree by the university.

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The ceremony, which was livestreamed by the university, was captured by the Staff-Student Solidarity Network. It came as hundreds turned out at Bristo Square on Tuesday to campaign against the University’s response to the marking and assessment boycott, which has left around 2,000 students unable to graduate with any degree.

Staff have staged walkouts over pay and conditionsStaff have staged walkouts over pay and conditions
Staff have staged walkouts over pay and conditions

As the marking boycott reached its second month in the ongoing nationwide row over pay and conditions, universities up and down the country, including the University of Edinburgh, have failed to reach a resolution with the union.

Responding to the protest at the ceremony, the union praised students: “Amazing. Students have stood with us every step of the way, and we are so grateful. They know, and we know, that the bosses can end this dispute tomorrow.” Staff from the university and across the country welcomed the protest. One lecturer said: “Fantastic! Solidarity with UCU staff everywhere”.

Universities have been brought to a standstill during unprecedented strike action, which has seen all of Edinburgh’s four universities join members of the University and College Union (UCU) from 150 UK universities during walkouts in February and March.

The union is demanding a meaningful pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living crisis and action to end the use of insecure contracts. Around a third of academic staff around the country are on temporary contracts.

While the marking boycott continues, university staff members have told bosses they are “appalled” at the university’s “cavalier disregard” for degrees and the welfare of students.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh University said: “Graduation day marks the culmination of years of hard work, in difficult circumstances for this particular cohort. We are acutely aware that delays associated with the boycott are a major source of anxiety for our students, and we are deeply sorry about the continued uncertainty they face over their futures. We understand the strength of feeling on these issues of national dispute and we support the right of our students to demonstrate lawfully and peacefully.”



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