Why Universities Need to Answer and Repay Students During the Coronavirus Pandemic

With Cambridge University announcing there will be no face-to-face lectures for the entirety of the academic year and many universities following in a similar vain, there is frustration and anger amongst many students that they are being made to pay the same price for an experience which is unlike any other year. Whilst online lectures can replicate elements of face-to-face teaching there’s clearly elements missing here as students may lack resources, such as libraries, and there won’t be the same level of debate that there would be within teaching spaces as it’s harder to make people partake in discussions when they’re not all in the same room.

As students, high hopes for university life are being ripped away by many institutions, it’s important that the prices they are having to pay reflects this. This uncertainty around face-to-face teaching has caused many prospective students to be stuck between two very difficult decisions – trying to defer and potentially facing tougher applicant competition next year or risk going without the freshers that everyone had been looking forward to. As so many universities are preventing applicants from deferring a year, due to a high demand for places, this leaves students with an inequality in their educational experience compared to their older peers.

Pandemic or no pandemic – students shouldn’t be forced to pay the same price for a second-rate education

Pandemic or no pandemic – students shouldn’t be forced to pay the same price for a second-rate education. This isn’t to say that universities aren’t trying in these testing circumstances, but students have already been set back by a barrage of strikes. To have to pay the same amount with limited resources and stripped back teaching, with most courses not having lectures for the foreseeable future is an insult.

Whilst it isn’t university’s fault at all that we are in this pandemic, it is only right that finances are reassessed to reflect more greatly the effects that many students will be feeling from these changes. Distance learning has clearly left many people feeling increasingly less supported. If universities refuse to reimburse students for at least part of their fees, it seems only right that they focus their priorities on investing more into online education to ensure the standard of education is as close to face-to-face lectures as it can be.

It’s important that students keep fighting for a good standard in their education

Whilst the University of Nottingham’s announcement that it will be started the new academic year as planned on the 21st September comes at welcome news to most students, there clearly will be challenges here with stripped back teaching making our experience a lot different going forward. Whilst only time will tell if we’ll still continue to receive this ‘high quality’ teaching, it’s important that students keep fighting for a good standard in their education and universities have a role in answering to students if this is not the case.

There is currently an online petition with over 340,000 signatures asking the government to reimburse all student fees in light of the recent strikes and COVID-19 which can be found here.

Lauren McGaun

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