Make tuition fee refunds easier for students, Bristol SU demands
‘Stop ignoring students, and stand up for our rights’
Bristol SU and 20 other universities have written an open letter to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) demanding the government department break their silence over tuition fee refunds.
The letter argues that “students deserve better than to be left paying tuition fees and accommodation without support from the CMA”.
Bristol SU say that students have seen a decrease in quality, with no adequate compensation from the university or the Government.
Are you getting £9.25k worth of education this year? 💸
Students have been denied what they were promised ❌ so we're fighting for Fee Justice Now for the #ClassOfCovid 📣
— Bristol SU (@Bristol_SU) March 25, 2021
The open letter is asking the CMA to take action in three key ways: to help students withhold fee payments and to ask for fee refunds, to fix the broken complaints system which makes it hard for students to get refunds, to help students prove that the “quality” of their course is not worth the full tuition.
Undergraduate Education Officer, David Ion, told The Bristol Tab: “What we’re trying to do is get power back into students’ hands, because at the moment, the conversation around fees, is really weighted towards the universities and the government”.
“If we’re just relying on good faith, the universities and government can shut students down so easily.
“The CMA has been completely silent on the issue of students and the impact of the pandemic on students educational experiences that we’re paying for. That’s why we’ve gone to the CMA. It’s the body that has the power to act in students’ interests, and people can’t ignore it”.
Bristol SU believe the current complaints body, The Office of Independent Adjudicators, is “ill equipped” to provide refunds.
“The whole process is designed to compartmentalise student experiences, not allow students to challenge the system as a whole. It’s really unclear how students can effectively use it to gain compensation”.
‘You are not just being sold the intended learning outcomes, you’re being sold the educational experience, access to the elite academics in your field, access to facilities on campus.’
At present, students have to prove the “quality” of their course has not met the required standards. The Office of Independent Adjudicators define “quality” as being measured against the intended learning outcomes of each student’s course. Bristol SU say this definition is far too narrow and not the experience that universities sell to students.
“You are not just being sold the intended learning outcomes, you’re being sold the educational experience, access to the elite academics in your field, access to facilities on campus.
“It’s important to reach out to organisations like the CMA who can’t be easily ignored if they are investigating this issue further”.
Writing an open letter to the CMA is part of the wider Fee Justice campaign Bristol SU is running and is the most tangible action to date. However, David Ion expects the campaign to intensify as students continue to lobby for tuition fee refunds. When quizzed as to why the SU haven’t organised any physical protests, Ion responded,
“We haven’t announced any protests yet, but watch this space”.