When is a fail not a fail?

The UCU is reporting on an employment tribunal at Bournemouth University over a dispute relating to the marking of examination scripts.

The case focused on the remarking of papers of fourteen students who had failed both their original examination in archaeology and the subsequent resit.  Despite the marks awarded by the complainant, Dr Paul Buckland, being confirmed in both diets by internal double marking and approved by the course’s exam board, the papers were subsequently remarked after intervention by the programme leader resulting in a number of the previously failing students gaining borderline marks that could allow them to gain an overall pass enabling them to remain on the course.  The revised marks were accepted by the chair of the exam board on behalf of the board.

Is this situation, as the UCU representatives’ comments suggest, a consequence of the ‘marketisation of higher education’ and emerging ‘consumerist attitudes to degrees’, or simply the result of inevitable subjectivity in the marking process?

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