It is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the face of university life as we know it. In the wake of action (or lack thereof) by the government, and tertiary education institutions, students have been greatly dissatisfied with the state of their university experience.
The universities watchdog’s annual report shows it received 2,604 complaints in 2020, 10% more than 2019. Students had grievances about a number of things: sexual misconduct, access to resources, academic supervision and teaching disruptions.
I find it intriguing that the BBC article I base my writing on put the phrase ‘huge disruption’ in quotation marks yet left the other subheadings without one. It consolidates the sentiment many university students have and recognise, which is that our is that our plights are not heard, our complaints about disruptions are not taken as seriously as they should be.
One big issue is the lack of compensation or partial refunds for the hefty tuition fees that the full value of which has not been received. More often I tend to notice a focus on the complaints of British students, but I would like to bring to light the plea of international students.
International students pay twice, sometimes thrice the tuition as home students for the same education, yet they have stayed in their home countries for entirety of the year and haven’t had the chance to experience a new environment.
Universities claim to offer support pages for students and scholarships, yet these are largely geared towards home students
Not considering the money lost in paying for accommodation that was never lived in due to difficult companies and hash contracts. It goes without saying that universities have saved loads of money as a result of significantly fewer students on campus yet out of the approximately £701 million that the University of Nottingham makes, only about 10 % has found its way back to students.
Universities claim to offer support pages for students and scholarships, yet these are largely geared towards home students. For the amount of money that international students are paying, the lack of empathy for their situation is appalling.
Furthermore, sexual misconduct is now garnering more attention. It is not just that cases are rising but it is that people are using their voice more thanks to platforms like ‘Everyone’s Invited’. Again, the article mentions that the OIA saw a rise in complaints about sexual misconduct in 2020, ‘but the numbers are small’.
To some extent, the stark figures are irrelevant. Every story matters, every trauma matters. It is bigger than just the statistics and numbers to portray but about the eradication of rape and sexual misconduct conduct.
Universities have been pushed by the Office for Students to work harder to stop sexual misconduct, but I will say one thing that needs greater attention is the fact that males get abused and harassed too and their masculinity should not be challenged because they had been taken advantage of.
The university experience just isn’t the same and students should be compensated. Universities may push a massive agenda on mental health awareness, but it is these same problems that contribute to deterioration of students’ mental health. More action towards prevention would mean less need for a cure.
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