Government Responds to “Scrap Tuition Fee” Petitions

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The UK government has responded to various student petitions to reduce tuition fees during COVID-19 and strike action

The UK government has responded to multiple petitions put forward by students demanding the suspension of University and college tuition (in some cases up to £9,250 per year) as a result of the uncertainty over education quality under the duress of COVID-19 necessary isolation.

Petitions range from the refund of semester 3 tuition 2020, all the way to full refunds for the entire last academic year as a result of strike action and other disruptions.

There are also petitions with hundreds of thousands of signers regarding tuition fees for the coming academic year.

The government suggested that tuition fees will not be waived for HE students during COVID-19 or strike disruptions, and that HE institutions themselves must be reasonable with regards to evaluating if their educational facilities and content were/are up to standard.

Education Minister Gavin Williamson stated that “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.”

Gavin Williamson discusses education policy during COVID at a briefing

Students of all ages across the UK find themselves in a worrying position during this current COVID-19 crisis. Between worries about exams, repeating years, and how they’re going to get into the building without banging elbows with someone else (all underpinned with the social and economic fear and uncertainty the COVID-19  pandemic has brought with it), some Higher Education students have more pressing financial fears.

Worries about online teaching were reconfirmed with statements from  Universities and colleges across the UK, indicating that where possible students will be able to access teaching resources, albeit many of these many be confined to online resources given the risk of infections in classes of up to 200 students or more. Risking infection is unacceptable and while many students understand the necessity of online teaching, the situation is presenting some problems.

Confusion over exactly what will happen when education terms begin is prevalent, with conflicting information regarding wearing masks in classes, being broken up into smaller teaching groups, or simply utilising online resources remotely.

University and college students are struggling to make decisions concerning their commute; jobs are scarcer pre COVID-19 and risky financial moves closer to campus may prove unfruitful if students are met with online only content.

The necessity to isolate to ensure safety and reduce infection is of paramount importance, and realistically educational institutions are taking their cues from the government guidelines which are fast moving and changeable given the current circumstances we are faced with. It is difficult to determine what challenges these circumstances will present with at the time.

Students should consider the implications of courses being delivered through online means and factor their decisions regarding accommodation into the notion that it does appear that many classes will be remote.

We will update you on all government responses regarding how the syllabus will be presented in the upcoming term.

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