Over 150,000 sign petition demanding this year’s tuition fees are reimbursed

‘If I wanted to do online learning I’d have signed up for open uni’

A petition demanding all students get reimbursed their full tuition this year has reached over 150,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

It was created after university students this year have missed weeks, and even months of teaching, due to a wave of UCU strikes and cancellation of face-to-face teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The appeal was created by University of Liverpool third-year student Sophie Quinn, who told The Tab: “I created the petition because I’m a final year student and felt like the strikes caused my studies to be disrupted but I pushed through, still meeting the deadlines asked of me (which did not change), regardless of the staff not meeting their marking deadlines.”

“Now with the issue of COVID-19 my whole university life has been derailed,” Sophie told The Tab. “I know this is not any universities’ fault and my university has done a lot to try and continue our learning online, however, I feel like I have been robbed of a lot of the experiences I was looking forward to and had worked for nearly three years towards.”

Sophie says she believes the quality of her degree “was not up to screatch this year”, adding: “I go to a Russell Group university and we get pushed to gain new skills and become the best we can be, however, this year has now been moved online and last time I checked I didn’t sign up to The Open University.”

The Liverpool student says students pay a “premium fee” with “interest slapped on top.” She told The Tab: “Now we cannot use study space, libraries or university computers which we are paying for. Therefore we should definitely not be expected to pay £9,250.”

Sophie told The Tab she was disappointed she and other final year students’ graduations had been cancelled, adding: “We don’t have a set graduation date to look forward to anymore, we aren’t able to get in-person dissertation feedback from our tutors, which we worked so hard towards and we never got a last lecture or final ball/formal.

“We as students are all gutted our year got cut short abruptly, still expected to meet deadlines, adapt to online learning, pay for our final rent instalment even though many parents don’t know when their next paycheque will be and we won’t even be living there.

“The government has not once addressed university students.”

The petition statement demands:

“All students should be reimbursed of this year’s tuition fees as universities are now online only due to COVID-19, with only powerpoints online for learning materials which are not worthy of up to £9,250. Furthermore, all assessments are being reconsidered to ‘make do’ and build up credits.

“Field trips have also been cancelled which our tuition fee was to pay for. There is also no need for accommodation which students have paid between £4,000-£8,000 for in advance and adding to their student debt.

“Lastly, the extended strikes of this year have severely disrupted student-staff interaction and personalised help, with staff not replying to emails or available for meetings. Grading is also being delayed. Overall, university quality is poor this year and certainly not worth up to £9,250.”

The Tab has spoken to several students why they signed the petition.

Hannah from Newcastle said: “Online teaching just really isn’t the same! And add that to the strikes I have a clue what any of these semesters modules are even about.

“Paying about £6,000 to teach myself from some PowerPoints.”

Emily-Jane, an Exeter student, told The Tab: “I’m mad that I’ve paid £9,250 for like three seminars.”

“All the students in my faculty think their grades have been adversely affected because of it and we’ve been cut no slack,” said Emily, from Bournemouth University.

You can sign the online petition here.

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