Students who were unable to spend a full year on campus for their studies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are calling for a reduction on their tuition fees.
An open letter has been addressed to education secretary Gavin Williamson, and universities minister Michelle Donelan, asking for disruption to learning to be considered when agreeing tuition fees.
A 30% reduction has been proposed by student leaders across the country, based on modelling from the London Economics consultancy.
The model suggests that increasing interest rates on student loans would cover the cost of the 30% tuition fee rebate, and high-earning graduates would pay it off rather than the taxpayer.
Campuses were close to empty during the height of the pandemic, and lockdowns meant that students had to study from home between autumn terms and the May 17 restriction lifts.
It has been a frustrating year for some, who have even had to pay for halls of residence that they couldn’t access as a result of COVID-19.
Graduation ceremonies were initially planned to be held virtually for University of Lincoln students this year, but a petition which was signed by thousands prompted the uni to U-turn and host in-person ceremonies for graduating students.
On the Overheard at University of Lincoln Facebook group, students agreed that fees should be reduced as a result of the pandemic, given that many students have had to complete their work from home.
Fiona Gillespie commented: “I think tuition fees should be reduced for everyone, no matter what they studied. Nobody studied fully on campus thus no-one deserves to pay full tuition.”
David Bosworth agreed, saying: “I believe tuition fees should be lowered as students are experiencing a stripped down version of their learning methods.”
Livi Ringsell compared the university experience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to studying at the open university.
“If I was forced to do a year at the open uni, I should pay the fees they pay at open university, it’s only fair!
“If I wanted to go to OU, I’d have done that and saved myself a bit of money!”
The tuition funding model is set out by central government, so universities cannot decide how much to charge students for their education.
A spokesperson for Universities UK said: “Universities are continuing to provide high-quality online learning, teaching and support services to ensure that students can progress with their studies.
“The UK government has previously said that there should be no blanket tuition fee refunds, but we recognise the growing calls from students for the government to provide greater support and to acknowledge the resilience and patience of students over the past year.”
“All universities have complaints procedures which should be students’ first port of call where they do have concerns. Students can also contact the OIA if their complaint remains unresolved. The OIA has recently published rules for group complaints.”