Between COVID-19 and the strikes, I’ve missed a year of uni. I want my money back
I’ll never have a lecture again
My university just cancelled all face-to-face teaching until September as the coronavirus outbreak gets worse, and it seems like all other universities in the UK are following suit. All of my classes have been moved online, becoming seminars over Skype or group emails. I’ll never have a lecture again, and I’ll probably never sit another exam as my uni prepares to rearrange take-home exams or extra essays.
I sat down and did the maths, and between the recent closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the way the strikes fell in 2018, 2019 and 2020, I’ve missed 20 weeks of teaching. That’s essentially an entire academic year at my uni, ignoring Freshers’ weeks. Nine grand paid in tuition fees, and for what? I want my money back.
Look, of course I get that this virus is no one’s fault and no one saw it coming. When the strikes were on, the lecturer’s couldn’t help the fact they were (and are) being treated badly. This isn’t about pointing fingers, but we can’t ignore the fact that in a few years time we’ll have to start repaying loans that weren’t even worth it.
Cambridge Uni and Durham Uni have even gone as far as to tell students they should leave campus and return to their hometowns. As our university management happily reminded students when we wanted money back for strike action, the nine grand we pay goes to much more than just teaching; the library, the buildings, the administration. If we can’t access any of those either, surely that’s even more of a reason to give us a refund?
Exeter Uni even tried to evict 27 freshers to quarantine students returning from Italy. They didn’t manage to after the freshers protested, but talk about a kick in the teeth from an institution that has a duty of care to look after you.
Sure, at most unis exams have become essays or open-book so they can be done at home. The University of Birmingham is even considering cancelling exams worth 50 per cent of modules or less. But, whether things have been put in place for that or not, we’re still not going to learn the content for assessments as we should be learning it.
If your seminars are now on Skype, what do you do if you don’t have a webcam? Or the Wi-Fi where you’re socially distancing yourself is crap? Or you can’t afford a PC and you’ve been relying on in-person classes and library computers for your whole degree?
What about presentations – how can you be marked on your delivery if your tutor isn’t even in the same city as you, let alone the same room?
If I’m not learning the way I’ve paid to learn, and that impacts on my assessment whether they’ve been adjusted or not, I’ve still essentially missed two thirds of my degree; two for the price of three.
My cohort might have experienced the worst disruption to their Higher Education for a generation, and we’re not being shown any sympathy.