The coronavirus pandemic has caused turmoil among everyone, including students in the UK. As schools, colleges, and universities have closed due to the virus, classes are proceeding on an online basis. However, this has been prone to many controversial opinions among students. Although online classes are the only way to avoid disruption to education during these challenging times, many students believe that they are unworthy of their tuition fees.
Students in the UK have petitioned for tuition fee reimbursement, a plea which has gathered 300,000+ signatures up until now. These students claim that both the current coronavirus situation as well as the extended strikes of the year have disrupted interactions between students and staff and thus personalised help. The students who have signed the petition agree that reimbursement should happen due to university quality this year.
Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, claims that The Government is doing the best they can in order to keep students and the staff safe during the pandemic. She assured that she understands the impact that the current situation might have on students while claiming that the government is “putting students at the heart” of all their work. When it comes to whether students should expect tuition fee reimbursement, minister Michelle Donelan claimed:
“Students ordinarily should not expect any fee refund if they are receiving adequate online learning and support.
However, the Government has made it clear that if institutions are unable to facilitate adequate online tuition then it would be unacceptable for students to be charged for any additional terms – effectively being charged twice.”
In her FAQs for university students, the minister admitted that the government is working with universities to make sure that everyone is doing the best they can in order to give students the experience they need. She revealed that the higher education sector is working hard to prepare learning materials for the summer and autumn term while admitting that many institutions across the country have been delivering “innovative examples of high-quality distance and online learning.”
Students who are having difficulties in proceeding with their learning on an online basis, either due to illness, lack of access to IT, or other responsibilities, should let their university know as soon as possible. Each university has its processes and regulations when it comes to dealing with different matters and managing complaints.
According to the Department for Education (DfE) FAQs section, if students feel like they are not receiving a good standard of education, they are entitled to make a complaint. Initially, these students should speak to their university and try to resolve the situation. If this is not possible, however, they have the possibility of taking their complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The OIA is in charge of handling complaints regarding higher education providers in England and Wales.
Classes will proceed to be conducted online until it is deemed safe for students and staff to return to their classrooms. Until then, summer exams have been cancelled, and exam boards are working on alternative methods of assessment to ensure that students can progress in their further or higher education, or even job opportunities which are dependent on certain qualifications.