Boris Johnson to lead ‘clap for students’ in place of tuition fee refunds
The Prime Minister is keen to keep his promise to do ‘everything we can to make it up to you’
Boris Johnson will today announce plans to lead a nationwide “clap for students” to show gratitude for “a hellish and unfair university year”.
Johnson has privately admitted students have had a “raw deal” and are due compensation, but internal polling has showed widespread tuition fee refunds would be viewed unfavourably in key “Red Wall” seats.
In March, Johnson pledged that “we’re going to do our best to make it up to you”, and allies say he is desperate to stick to this promise in some way. A “clap for students” is seen as a cost-free way to do so.
It’s believed to be inspired by a similar idea proposed by Bristol Vice-Chancellor Hugh Brady.
270,000 people signed a petition calling on the government to partially refund tuition fees due to the impact of 2019.
The government has resisted these calls, saying students are not entitled to money back en-masse.
Instead, students have been encouraged to go through a multi-stage process if they believe their learning has been substandard.
The Tab revealed last term that just one in 30 students who asked for a tuition fee refund over Covid disruption were successful.
During a lively cabinet debate on the issue, Matt Hancock argued that money for tuition fee refunds could be better spent on providing union flags to fly on all university buildings and halls of residence.
As the country emerges out of lockdown, the Conservatives are keen to win back the student vote – which insiders see as up for grabs after a lukewarm online reception to Keir Starmer.
Yet the announcement is likely to provoke controversy, after the “clap for carers” was accompanied by a widely-panned one per cent pay rise for nurses.
Before you get too worked up, check the date.