Mass resignation of external examiners at UK Universities: How to join in

You may have seen the news this week about a group of UK senior academics, all of them UCU members, resigning from their external examiner duties at UK Universities in protest over the system-wide failure to deal with staffing problems and associated issues such as casualisation and workload. You can read about their action in the Guardian, here. The full letter from the group can be found here.

Mass resignations of external examiners were an important supplementary part of forcing an end to our 2018 pensions dispute, but this is the first time that members have used the tactic this time around. It has the potential to very disruptive, and a useful addition to the more established forms of industrial action we’re taking such as strike action and action short of a strike (ASOS).

Their statement reads: “We are refusing to act as external examiners because although we believe that this role is crucial in underpinning the quality of education provided to students, so too is the need to provide fair pay, pensions and job security for those who work in universities.”
“It is long past time for universities to address these festering problems, and we believe we have a responsibility to staff at the start of their careers to make a stand now. Please join us by resigning external examiner posts and refusing to take on new contracts until universities take action to address these issues.”

After lots of members asking for guidance on how to follow suit, UCU has since provided guidance to members on how to do so, and have also included a very useful draft resignation letter to institutions where you do external examining work.

If you do heed the call of these colleagues, and resign your post as an external examiner, please email the branch office at so we can keep a record of how many of our members are doing this, and if you make any statements about your action on social media, please tag in the branch account so we can help boost your signal.

Members with queries about this should contact UCU’s Matt Waddup for help on: