Thousands of students and grads are claiming uni compensation for lost time over strikes

If successful, students during the strikes and pandemic could win £5k compensation each

Almost 20,000 students have launched multi-million-pound group legal action against UK universities, over disruption due to the strikes and Covid.

If successful, UK students who were at uni during the pandemic are estimated to win around £5,000 compensation each, with international students potentially getting even more.

Millions of students and graduated could potentially join the Student Group Claim, and depending how many do, unis could collectively have to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds.

Leading solicitors have teamed up to help the Student Group Claim members claim fair compensation from their unis, through no win, no fee group court claims.

UK uni students pay £9,250 per year for undergraduate degrees, with Master’s and international students often paying far more. Like any other customers, Student Group Claim argues students deserve compensation “when they received substantially less valuable services than those for which they paid”.

It says: “No other service provider would get away with cancelling a service or replacing it with a lower-value substitute without offering a price reduction.”

Unis were contracted to give students in-person tuition and access to facilities and other services, in exchange for fees. However, the group claim argues that “from 2018 to 2022 there was a material difference between what students paid for and what they actually received”.

There have been significant changes and cancellations, due to uni staff strikes and coronavirus, and the group argues unis have mostly failed to offer students financial compensation for this, despite doing well financially during the period of the pandemic.

“Students’ losses – the disruption to their courses and access to facilities – should fall on the shoulders of the universities, which can afford to bear that burden, rather than falling upon students who cannot”, the group says.

Ryan Dunleavy, partner at Harcus Parker and solicitor to Student Group Claim, said: “These universities are often huge, wealthy institutions that pushed the financial impact and burden of Covid and of their own staff striking onto their customers, the students. Unlike the universities, a significant number of which increased their income over the pandemic period, those students largely survived on limited financial means and loans.

“Despite this, universities generally took few steps to compensate students for the subpar services they delivered in these periods. The Student Group Claim helps readdress the power and financial imbalance between the parties by giving the students the opportunity to bring a claim collectively, rather than as individuals.”

Shimon Goldwater, partner at Asserson and solicitor to Student Group Claim, said: “When you pay for a service, if you did not receive what you paid for, you deserve compensation. Universities promised students in-person tuition and access to facilities and other services in return for substantial fees. During strike action and the pandemic they failed to provide this but still expected to be paid in full.

“Students have often taken out substantial loans to pay for a package of education and experiences which they did not receive. Working with Harcus Parker we want to ensure students get fair compensation for the disruption to their academic lives and their ruined university experience.”

Letters before claim have already been sent to 18 unis, seeking damages on behalf of their current and former students. These are:

  • Uni of Birmingham
  • Uni of Bristol
  • Cardiff Uni
  • City, Uni of London
  • Coventry Uni
  • Imperial
  • King’s
  • Uni of Leeds
  • Uni of Liverpool
  • LSE
  • Uni of Manchester
  • Newcastle Uni
  • Uni of Nottingham
  • Queen Mary, London
  • Uni of Sheffield
  • UCL
  • UAL
  • Uni of Warwick

These are all being treated as separate claims, however the claims all relate to the same background and are very similar.

In February next year, the High Court will decide whether to allow the 3,500 UCL claimants to bring their claims together against UCL, as a group. If this is successful, similar orders are likely to be made for the other student groups for litigation against their respective universities.

To find out more, go to the Student Group Claim website.

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