University students faced a summer of "stress and panic" amid a marking boycott, a Southend MP has said, as student leaders assess the impact of recent industrial action.

Anna Firth, MP for Southend West, was among MPs told that students with anxiety and mental health problems were "disproportionately" affected.

Ms Firth is a member of the House of Commons' education select committee, which met to scrutinise higher education providers.

Universities have faced a number of complaints following the University and College Union’s (UCU) marking and assessment boycott, which caused disruption to degree results and graduations, student leaders have said.

The boycott, which affected students at more than 140 universities in the UK for more than four months, was part of a dispute between the UCU and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).

Ms Firth highlighted evidence from students who said last year’s marking boycott led them to “a state of heightened anxiety” and a summer “filled with stress and panic”.

She added that the education select committee had heard evidence that some students were undergoing counselling and the industrial action “made their existing mental health worse”.

Gareth Jones, deputy president at the Open University Students Association, told MPs: “The marking [and] assessment boycott definitely did increase the impact on students.

“We saw an increase in cases of students with mental health or anxiety challenges reaching out to us with concerns and problems that they were having.”

Members of the UCU refused to mark exams or assessments from April 20 to September 6 last year as part of the dispute over pay and working conditions with university employers.

It came after UCU members staged a series of strikes in February and March last year in two separate disputes – one on pensions and one on pay and working conditions.

Mr Jones said: “We probably did see a shift in sentiment from students as the marking and assessment boycott did come into place.

“People are generally supportive of industrial action and the reasons behind it. They just felt that this particular tactic was disproportionately affecting students,” he added.