UK Students Seek Tuition Refunds as They Face Third Year of Remote Learning

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Following an analysis suggesting that universities across the United Kingdom are planning to combine in-person with online lectures in autumn, students have required to be refunded at least part of the fees they are charged due to education taking place mostly online.

The blended learning will depend on social distancing rules and if students are fully vaccinated in time, Erudera.com reports.

According to the survey of 17 universities by the Observer, many of the UK higher education institutions are preparing for two scenarios, the first one in which there are no longer distancing rules and campuses return to close to normal and the second in which the distance of one meter must be observed.

In an open letter sent to the University of Kent where she pursues studies, a second-year politics student, Rhian Shillabeer, wrote that it is unfair to charge £9,250 a year for YouTube tutorials and urged universities to make in-person learning a priority. The letter was signed by hundreds of students.

Vice-Chancellors from the Russell Group of research-intensive universities called on the government to support the rollout of the pop-up vaccination centers on campuses at the beginning of the autumn term in order to prevent the repeat of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Vice-Chancellor of York University, Charlie Jeffrey, said that vaccination is a precondition for universities to return to normality again.

 “I’d like the government to see that as a priority, given the disruption university students have had to face. We’ve too often been an afterthought for the government, and students have felt that and are not happy about it,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey added that despite York University considering which buildings could be reused to hold classes and respect the one-meter distance rule, providing all teaching in-person would not be possible.

In the meantime, Cardiff University announced that all classes attended by more than 60 people will be held online, whereas the Durham University is still not clear about its plan, saying that the mix of online and in-person learning will depend on the course and the academic year.

Whereas, at the University College London, some modules will take place fully online, and others will be a mix of in-person and online.

The General Secretary of the London School of Economics Student Union, David Gordon, said that another year of disruption could take place and it would trigger renewed calls for refunds.

“I think students will put up with a bit of online learning. But if students are barred from campuses, not getting in-person teaching or building connections with each other or faculty, you could see an increase in calls for compensation,” he said.

Most recently, nearly half of UK students said that their degrees have offered “poor or very poor” value for money this year, a survey by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) think tank, including 10,000 full-time undergraduate students in the UK, has revealed.

More than 32,000 international students in the UK signed a petition earlier this year, asking the government for at least 30 percent of tuition fees to be refunded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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