Submitted by Wiktoria Seroczynska on Friday 20th March 2020
Published on Tuesday 7th April 2020
Current status: Closed
Closed: Wednesday 7th October 2020
Refund university students for 3rd Semester Tuition 2020
As students are unable to access facilities or continue with their eduction at their university setting in the following semester, we would like to request that the government considers refunding tuition payments for Semester 3.
Majority of Universities across England have closed early to ensure safety for all students and staff in light of the recent situation regarding COVID-19.
In addition to moving teaching events online, these closures have resulted in students having no access to facilities that they have paid for (such as the library, students union, student support services, etc.)
It would be unfair to charge students for Semester 3 as services paid for will not be provided.
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The Government responded to this petition on Tuesday 19th May 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 adequate 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 has worked with the OfS to enable providers to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers will be able to use the funding, totalling £46m across April and May, towards student hardship funds and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.
Government has previously responded to a petition concerning tuition fee refunds for both COVID-19 disruption and strike action. The response can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302855
Department for Education
This petition has reached the threshold for a Parliamentary debate, but the debate has not yet been scheduled.
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