‘My uni cancelled my offer because of COVID and I had to get a job instead’

Unis are cancelling students’ courses because of the pandemic

A student had to put off uni and get a job after being told her course was cancelled in the middle of summer.

Abbie Thompson had an offer for MA History at Worcester uni, but was told on 21st July it had been cancelled, with the uni blaming “viability issues in the context of the current emergency.”

The uni gave Abbie the alternative of MA English, but she didn’t want to do it. “It caused a lot of distress because obviously it left me in the unknown,” Abbie told The Tab.

“It was too late to apply to other universities so now I’m sort of stuck”, Abbie told The Tab, who has instead got a job as a support worker.

Late in summer, as students gear up for life in the bubble, unis are beginning to cancel courses because of coronavirus. Leicester cancelled its BA American studies course, offering students a place on alternative courses. Wolverhampton cancelled its Philosophy and Religious studies course, and Worcester – where Abbie was due to carry on her studies – is also affected.

“As a result of the impact of the pandemic on student numbers, we have taken the regrettable decision to suspend this programme,” Leicester told students in an email sent on Tuesday.

Abbie, who also completed her undergrad at Worcester, had asked on 1st July about the course, as she was looking into student finance, and was told “there is some question about whether the University can run MA History in 2020-21.”

The mixture of online and in-person teaching was mentioned as a factor in the decision: “Staff workloads will be stretched in the coming year due to the complexities of blended delivery; and we are having to look closely at the viability of some smaller courses.”

However, it was not until three weeks later, when Abbie had already been offered accommodation, that she was told the course was actually cancelled and encouraged to look at other universities.

“It’s just upsetting that universities feel like it’s acceptable to treat students like this. We work super hard to get into courses for everything to be ripped away,” Abbie told The Tab.

“The university accommodation even called me two days ago to ask if I wanted to accept my offer.”

A University of Worcester spokesperson told The Tab: “The University offers more than 200 courses, across a vast range of subjects. Every effort is made to ensure that prospective students have access to the latest key information about their study options.

“Changes to courses, modules, and University services may be necessary, for example, to meet the requirements of an accrediting body or to keep courses contemporary by updating practices or areas of study. Changes to courses or course closures may also be needed because of circumstances outside the reasonable control of the University, such as where the minimum of students needed to ensure a good educational experience has not been met.

“If, in exceptional circumstances, a course is closed after an applicant has already accepted an offer, the University will always try to give early notification and minimise the impact by reconsidering an applicant’s application and offering them a place on a suitable, alternative course or by helping them consider other university options. Unlike undergraduate courses, applications for most postgraduate courses can be made throughout the summer and often beyond.

“Students who have questions about studying at the University of Worcester can contact our Admissions Hotline on 01905 855 111 or chat with current students through our website at worcester.ac.uk.”

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