UK Universities Minister Advises Students to Apply for Refunds on Poor Quality Courses

United Kingdom

Minister of State for Universities of the United Kingdom, Michelle Donelan, advised students who have not been satisfied with the quality that their higher education institutions have offered to apply for refunds on courses.

She told the Daily Telegraph that the Office of the Independent Adjudicator had issued tens of thousands of refunds to students who applied amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They are consumers, at the end of the day. They’re paying a substantial amount of money that’s an investment in their own lives. They deserve that appeal right,” Donelan added.

The minister also criticized institutions that have not returned to in-person education yet, pointing out that the latter should deliver what they have promised to students.

In a blog post published on January 20 by the iNews, Donelan wrote that there are “pockets of poor quality” in the UK’s university system, which according to her if allowed to proliferate, can undermine the process in social mobility.

“I know for certain that I would not want my children on a course that doesn’t lead to graduation, further study or a job, and I have no doubt that most people would feel the same as me,” she wrote.

According to Donelan, those for whom the university is a new and unfamiliar world are the most vulnerable and likely to enroll in courses where graduate prospects are poor.  

Data have shown that tens of thousands of students in England attend institutions that may soon face restrictions or fines due to low quality in education and poor value for money that they have offered students.

Recently, the Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator of higher education in England, announced it would be setting minimum requirements that institutions should meet as a condition for registration. It has set out thresholds for full and part-time students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

According to OfS, universities and colleges that do not meet the requirements will face fines and restrictions on their student loan funding. For full-time students in their first degree, the regulator proposed the following:

  • 80 percent of students continue their second year of studies
  • 75 percent to complete degree
  • 60 percent to access professional employment or other studies

According to OfS research, at 25 universities and other education institutions, less than half of students who start a degree expect to complete it and find professional employment or further study within 15 months of their graduation.

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