Submitted by Sophie Quinn on Saturday 14th March 2020
Published on Monday 23rd March 2020
Current status: Closed
Closed: Wednesday 23rd September 2020
Reimburse all students of this year’s fees due to strikes and COVID-19
All students should be reimbursed of this years tuition fees as universities are now online only due to COVID-19, with only powerpoints online for learning materials which is not worthy of up to £9,250. Furthermore, all assessments are being reconsidered to ‘make do’ and build up credits.
Field trips have also been cancelled which our tuition fee was to pay for. There is also no need for accommodation which students have paid between £4,000-£8,000 for in advance and adding to their student debt. Lastly, the extended strikes of this year have severely disrupted student-staff interaction and personalised help, with staff not replying to emails or available for meetings. Grading is also being delayed. Overall, university quality is poor this year and certainly not worth up to £9,250.
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The Government responded to this petition on Friday 5th June 2020
HE providers must deliver high quality courses.
If students are unhappy they should first complain to their provider and if their concerns are unresolved they can ask OIA to consider their complaint.
Government recognises the challenges facing students and supports them in their desire to continue receiving the best possible learning experience from our higher education (HE) providers. We consider it in the best interests of all students that they receive a high-quality online education during this unprecedented period that allows them to progress and to complete their studies within the time period they had been anticipating.
There are some fantastic and innovative examples of high-quality online learning being delivered by HE providers across the country, and the sector is working hard to provide and prepare learning materials for the summer and autumn terms. Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees. In deciding to keep charging full fees, universities will of course want to ensure that they can continue to deliver courses which are fit for purpose and help students progress their qualifications. Any refund is a matter for universities, so we are not considering a write off of tuition fee loans.
We believe that students should be at the heart of the HE system. The Office for Students (OfS), the regulator in England, has committed to protecting students throughout the present crisis and has published guidance for registered providers on how it will approach the regulation of quality and standards, and this includes practical ways in which students can complete their studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are upheld. Providers are already making these arrangements and the Government is in continuous contact with the sector to support the continuation of teaching and assessment. The Government is also working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education to ensure students continue to leave HE with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.
The Government’s clear expectation is that HE providers should make all reasonable efforts to enable students to complete their studies. If providers are unable to facilitate good online tuition, they should seek to avoid charging students for any additional terms they may need to undergo as a consequence – avoiding effectively charging them twice. Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the provider and student.
It is important that students continue to receive a good standard of education, and they are entitled to make a complaint if they feel that their HE provider has not taken sufficient steps to appropriately respond to this situation. In the first instance, students should speak to their provider to see if they can resolve their complaint. We expect student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly, and sympathetically by providers to resolve any concerns. If a student at a provider in England or Wales is not satisfied with their provider’s response, they can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) to consider their complaint.
Government also understands that it may be difficult for some students to finish their current year of study for personal reasons, and that this will undoubtedly be a source of concern to many. Where students are unable to complete their current year of study or need to repeat a year due to compelling personal reasons, they may be eligible for an additional year of fee loan support above their standard entitlement under existing arrangements.
Finally, Government appreciates the difficult situation facing students who are renting term-time accommodation. We encourage universities and private hall providers to be fair in their decisions about rent charges for this period. A number of large companies have waived rents for the summer term or released students early from their contracts. Students who are tenants with individual private landlords should discuss the possibility of an early release from their tenancy agreement. The Government has also worked with the OfS so that existing funds, totalling £46m across April and May, can now be used to boost providers’ hardship funds for students in financial difficulty. This can include help for IT equipment and internet access, and may be helpful for students who are struggling with housing costs or loss of income from part-time work.
Government has previously responded to a petition concerning compensation for strike action at universities. The response to this petition can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300528
Department for Education
This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302855)
This petition has reached the threshold for a Parliamentary debate, but the debate has not yet been scheduled.
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