Students are entitled to a refund for poor teaching during coronavirus, gov suggests

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Last night the government said university students are entitled to tuition fee refunds when the contract between the university and the student has been breached.

The chair of the petitions committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, said students should be able to take action if they are not happy with their uni’s response to the pandemic.

She said: “We welcome the Government’s acceptance that students should be able to take action if they are unsatisfied with their university’s response to the pandemic.”

Following a petition signed by over 350k students arguing for a refund for last academic year’s fees, the petitions committee launched an investigation and agreed the government should reimburse students.

However ministers rejected this idea due to the amount of financial aid offered throughout the pandemic, but did say the universities themselves should be the ones to give students a refund.

They said: “The Government has provided unprecedented financial support during Covid-19. We are, however, clear that whether an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the student and their provider.

“It is a matter for providers to determine whether a refund is appropriate and, if so, how such refunds should be paid.”

The ministers also said students must know the active role they can have in holding their university to account.

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator said earlier this year unis should consider handing out refunds if the experience they provide is not “broadly equivalent” to what they promised students.

They added a “blanket refusal” from unis to consider giving certain students refunds is not “reasonable”.

Universities UK, who represent Vice Chancellors, said students should not expect refunds where the level of teaching and support has been good.

They did however say if a student feels they haven’t received a quality level of education then they should make a complaint to their uni where it will be considered on a case by case basis.

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