This student has started a campaign for unis to give out tuition fee refunds in cash

‘If we wanted to do an online degree, we would have done Open University’

A student has launched a campaign demanding unis pay students back nearly £1,400 of their tuition fees in cash.

Glasgow second year James Yucel started the Refund Us Now campaign asking for a 15 per cent refund, saying “if we wanted to do an online degree, we would have done Open University.”

James wants the refund given immediately in cash, rather than simply taken off students’ existing debt, arguing that a refund of that size would allow students to buy decent laptops to access online teaching.

Online teaching is 15 per cent less effective, James says, citing a Canadian study. However, unis argue that online teaching takes far more time and effort than in-person teaching to put together, rendering the refund question moot.

“That’s their issue. Not ours,” James says. “We’re the ones who have been left out of pocket as a result of their incompetence.”

As a Glasgow student – where thousands have been self-isolating in halls and banned from going to the pub – he’s seen the chaos first hand.

“We were told we would be studying via a hybrid system where some of our course would be online and some in person – which is why we all came up to Glasgow, under the assumption we *had* to be there,” James told The Tab.

“Now we know the course is likely to be online for the entire year, we are severely out of pocket because of the money we’ve spent on rent, living fees, bills, and textbooks.”

So far he says there’s been good support and is trying to enlist the help of groups from across the political spectrum.

“We plan to write an open letter to UCU and NUS asking for their endorsement for the policy of refunding us 15 per cent cash on our tuition fees.

“The next steps are getting a team of cross party ambassadors together. We will be exploring legal avenues shortly.”

Although official talk around fees refunds not been promising so far – with students told to go through the lengthy process of uni complaints and then escalating through the Office for the Independent Adjudicator – James hopes there will be strength in numbers.

“Ultimately, the government and unis can dismiss the idea if they want. But they can’t ignore the students of this country standing united in this one aim,” he told The Tab.

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