Students demand refunds on tuition fees claiming university lecturers have abandoned them – The Sun

STUDENTS want their tuition fees refunded amid claims university lecturers have abandoned them during the coronavirus lockdown.

Many complain they have had just four hours contact time since the crisis began – despite paying up to £9,250 a year for their courses.

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Some are threatening to go to court unless standards improve – or they are given a refund.

Universities closed in March, forcing students to access teaching online.

But despite having no access to campuses or face-to-face classes, they are still having to pay the full annual fee.

Tory MP Esther McVey has demanded an inquiry into university standard by higher education regulators after talks with angry under-graduates.

She said: “It is clearly unacceptable that some students are paying over £9,000 in tuition fees when they are not receiving the education they signed up for.


“You can’t charge for a service you are not providing.

“Universities should be offering refunds where students have missed out on what they have paid for.”

The former Cabinet minister is in discussions with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson about how to recompense those who feel let down.

Eight out of ten students want at least a partial refund, according to an online survey of 1,500 she has carried out.

Emily Bethell, 23, a second-year law student, revealed she has received only four hours contact time with lecturers this term out of an expected 120 hours.

Courses were being conducted mostly online but she said this has left her and many others feeling “short changed”.

She said: “If I had wanted to take an online degree, I would have gone to the Open University and paid a fraction of the fee.”

University chiefs have offered “compassionate marking” to make up for the lack of attention.

But Emily dismissed this as a “get out clause” to avoid a probe into teaching standards during the crisis.

She added: “I feel that we have been an afterthought in all this.

“They are trying to get away with the mandatory minimum.

“If you purchased a car which has lots wrong with it you would want it fixed or you’d be asking for a refund.

“If they are going to treat us like a commodity, I want to enforce my consumer rights.

“I am not receiving a service that I have paid for.”

Bronwen Kershaw, 20. a second-year history student, said: “It’s not good value for money.

“The amount we are having to pay for the services we are being provided is absolutely ridiculous.

“The universities have to be held accountable in some way for what has happened in the past few months.

“Some of my material has no books available online – they are all in the library which I cannot access.

“It’s a free-for-all for your own education. Everything has deteriorated,” she told Ms McVey’s “blue collar conversations” podcast

Earlier this month, the government rejected calls for a financial bailout from vice-chancellors to help them to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Universities had asked for £2.2 billion extra in research funding to make up for the predicted fall in overseas students in the next academic year.

After weeks of wrangling across departments, the government says that universities will instead receive an additional £100 million for research.

The £2.6billion from tuition fees from UK students will be paid to universities upfront in the autumn, rather than in four blocks throughout the year.

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