Covid 19 restictions on university studies drew a massive call to action from students and the general public and resulted in several petitions to Parliament.
The biggest was e-petition 302855, to “Reimburse all students of this year’s fees due to strikes and COVID-19”, with 347,638 signatures, over three times the number needed for a Commons debate.
On July 13 the Commons Petitions Committe of 11 backbench Members of Parliament from Government and Opposition parties which has the power to force the government to act, reported its findings.
It recommended the Government to take a number of actions, including:
- provide guidance on how students can claim refunds or repeat parts of their courses
- establish an easier system for students who believe they haven’t received the education to which they are entitled to seek a refund
- provide financial support for students who may wish to extend their education; and
- consider providing emergency funding to universities, to support them in refunding eligible students
The cross party committee believes it is right to refund students as its recommendations clearly show.
Its full report can be read here:
But the Government’s response was derisory, making it clear that to get justice students must act to help themselves and cannot rely on support from the authorities.
In September it replied that it would not intervene directly with help but suggested that students could sue their universities for tuition fee refunds.
It said: “Students have rights and it is for them to decide how they wish to exercise them, whether through their university/provider’s complaints system, the independent student complaints scheme that operates in England and Wales (the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA)), or the courts. It is clear, however, that whether an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the student and their providers.”
In other words to get any serious compensation students will have to sue for it as this is the only way in which the question of ‘contractual arrangements’ can be legally decided.
The Government’s full response can be read here: