Tuition fees – universities response to coronavirus
Covid19 has affected the higher education world leaving many students unsure of future learning and the tuition fees involved. This huge upheaval has seen both classes and assessments switch to online learning – adhering to government guidelines. However, whilst this is a necessary measure given the circumstances, it has caused significant debate among both students and universities. There are students who feel there should be a change made to tuition fees by form of reduction or refund.
No automatic refunds for tuition fees in UK universities
Despite thousands of students affected by the outbreak, MPS’s have advised not to get hopes up for a refund. In a report, education committees stated that students do have a right to seek a refund or to repeat part of their course. However, this is only if the service provided by their university is considered substandard. There will not be a universal refund or reimbursement of tuition fees to all university students. This comes as a blow for students across the country who have seen their learning disrupted beyond measure. However, the National Union of Students has said UK universities should offer the chance to repeat the year at no extra cost. This decision is down to universities discretion, but the government have urged them to make some form of allowances. And, given the importance of the higher education sector to the UK economy it has been strongly encouraged.
Students fight back
There is a general feeling that students have been ignored and let down regarding the refund of tuition fees. The main issue is that there is no clear guidance of what adequate teaching looks like. And, as such, students feel their academic journey is being shaped by the unknown. This raises the big question – should universities charge for a service they are not providing? There are considerable variances in the quality of lessons taught online, with some reporting incorrect information with reused lesson plans. In addition to this, students who live on campus have had no access to campus facilities and a considerable lack of contact with staff. Also, to add salt to the wounds, many students have been paying rent on accommodation they have not been using.
Government faces backlash
Earlier this month, the government rejected calls for a financial bailout from vice-chancellors to help them to cope with Covid19. This move has gravely affected higher education, not only for current students, but for those looking to start in September.
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