Back to news

Mark my words, not my name

Tuesday 22 July 2008 Higher Education

Anonymous marking for exams and coursework is crucial to ensure equality and fairness for students. Research tells us that black students receive lower marks than their white counterparts. Lesbian, gay and trans students report that their coursework has been marked unfairly simply because of their sexuality or gender expression.

NUS and students' unions have been calling for anonymous marking since 1999 and have been successful in many higher education institutions. We’ve also received endorsements from the Quality Assurance Agency, teaching unions, and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

There is an increasing recognition of the need for anonymous marking across the higher education sector. However, some institutions still employ unfair marking methods.

In the 2007 National Student Survey, 40 per cent of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with feedback and assessment. We believe it’s time for that to change.

What is anonymous marking?

Anonymous marking is a system of assessment where the student’s name is unknown to the marker. It can be used for written examinations and for other forms of assessment. There are various ways of implementing anonymous marking. Some of the most common are marking by numbers, bar codes, double marking, and external or visitor marking.

How you can get involved

  • Find out what marking systems are in place in your institution. If there is anonymous marking in place, find out if it covers all types of assessments.
  • Distribute a questionnaire to gather students’ views on the fairness of the current marking schemes.
  • Find out if complaints have been made to your student union about discriminatory marking and whether your union has run previous campaigns.
  • Raise awareness about anonymous marking by putting up posters and encouraging students to fill in a postcard and send it to your vice-chancellor or principal. You can order materials from us using this short order form.