I did not sign up for this uni experience and I want my money back
£9,250 to sit in my room all day feels like a bitttt of a scam?
Being a student right now is shit. That’s exactly how it is, it’s thick, gloopy eat-out-to-help-out, maximum tuition fees in a pandemic, shit. I wish that I could tell you being a student right now comes with a nice wave of solidarity between all students everywhere against a government who really sees us as nothing but money, but the only solidarity we have at the moment is how utterly disappointing the uni experience is this year. The student experience of 2020 is fucking awful. I didn’t sign up for Zoom small talk and being locked in a tiny bashed about student dorm, and I want my money back.
I don’t think anyone needs reminding that we are expected to pay £9,250 for our tuition fees, with most of us loaning an extra couple of K (and when I say couple of K I mean… up to 11k each year that you have to repay, with interest) on maintenance too. Here’s a fun game: Go to the ghost town of your university campus, and actually try and work out what you’re paying this amount of money for. The ease of access to facilities doesn’t exist anymore, you can’t walk into the library to study or sit in your SU for hours on end, it’s simply not there. We’re paying for a quality of teaching that we are not receiving, in a city we don’t need to be at to study it. As a third-year, I have one in-person seminar – the rest of it is on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, that I can only attempt to tune into with my rattling student Wi-Fi. Imagine buying a car for £9,250 and not being able to drive it – you’d be absolutely fuming.
Poor student Wi-Fi aside, the idea that all teaching will be online is fine. If online teaching means students are safe and actually, uni is finally totally accessible – that’s great. But I paid £9,250 for full accessibility to facilities, group projects, printers, labs, computers, postgraduate support, well-being support and the rest of an endless, usually tempting list of what uni has to offer. We’re not getting any of that anymore, at least not with the same ease that we had before. So why are we still paying the same amount?
My one in-person seminar meant that I had to move across the country and sign a tenancy agreement. When I finally realised I had absolutely no need to be living in my uni city, I felt cheated. I felt naive for even believing for a second, that my uni experience would be worth it. I had my dad drive me up here, move me into a flat on the sixth floor of a seven-story building, and for what? So that I can Zoom my seminar class once a week, and smile politely through the repetitive line of: “Obviously this module isn’t going to be what we expected this year, but we’ll try our best online” over and over again.
I’ve moved away from my family to sit inside playing what feels like a waiting game for being told if I need to self-isolate – because we’ve seen the news, and it looks like if I leave the house and actually attempt to live a bit at uni, I will need to – and that is exhausting. We were told to move to uni, we were told it was safe and legal and necessary to do so. I cannot see what is necessary about it at all, nothing is open and you can’t see anyone. My mental health slipped from ok to absolutely shambolic within the space of a week – living at university at the moment is lonely and exhausting, and the fact we can’t even reclaim some of the money we’ve paid to get into this situation is shameful.
It’s worse still, for all of the freshers who have moved away for the first time into halls where everyone is getting COVID. Where their actual life is an episode of CBBC’s ‘Trapped’ but without the entertainment, and with at least six strangers who you have no choice but to get on with. First years are paying so much money to lock themselves in a room that they cannot go out of, and attending some kind of Zoom Freshers’ Fair isn’t going to make them feel any less alone: spoiler alert, as soon as that Zoom meeting is over, you are completely, utterly alone. So yes, forcing students to stay at their unis will cause a mental health crisis, it seems blatantly obvious that that would happen.
I cannot believe that the government has had the audacity to have gone so far through this pandemic without addressing uni students. We were the ones serving your meals during their grand Eat Out To Help Out scheme, the ones chugging our bank balances back into the economy, and now we are the one’s being blamed for potentially another national lockdown. I did not sign up to a university experience of trying extremely hard to give a shit about my degree when the world around me is absolutely terrifying. I didn’t sign up to sit inside my flat all day and watch pre-recorded lectures and have no outlet, fun or social life to take my mind off it. Students are being punished for turning up somewhere they were told to be. I already have Netflix, I don’t need to pay another extortionate amount to watch online videos all day – thanks very much. So here’s from every student: Give us our fucking money back.