Cardiff University paid £150k to 232 students who complained about strikes

A single student was refunded over £1k out of ‘goodwill’

Information obtained by The Tab, as a result of a Freedom of Information request, has uncovered that Cardiff University has paid out £146,199.77 to students who complained about strikes, since 2019.

The statistics, showing Industrial Action Complaints data, highlight that since the start of 2019, there were 319 complaints to the university as a result of strike disruption to teaching. The data then highlights that of these 319 complaints, 232 students were awarded refunds.

In the 2019/2020 academic year, there were around three weeks of strikes in the autumn term and then five weeks of strikes in the spring term. The strikes that occurred in spring ended just a week before the effects of the coronavirus pandemic began – leaving some students with less than three weeks of uninterrupted teaching in the spring term of last year.

The university writes that “the financial gestures of goodwill were made to students in acknowledgement of their learning and teaching being impacted during the industrial strike action”.

Emily, a third year History student, received a refund after complaining to the university due to the industrial action last year. She told The Cardiff Tab: “When the strikes initially happened, I missed out on almost all seminars and lectures, and some elements of my course also had to change.

“I decided to put forward a complaint, I didn’t expect much and was very surprised when I was told how much money I was going to receive. It makes sense with how much I lost out on, but it’s fair to say I was shocked.”

While some students are happy with the outcome, many other students have not been so lucky.

The university faced backlash in their approach to the strike complaints, as students have argued that the complaints process was purposely confusing in order to deter them from complaining. A student took to Twitter to complain about strikes and a lack of support from the uni, writing:

This year, students have gone on strike against full tuition fees after industrial action and the pandemic greatly affected teaching in the last year.

Izzy, a second year Journalism student, told the The Cardiff Tab she was “shocked” after hearing refunds were given to certain students and not others. She argued that all students should be “equal” and “we have all suffered due to the strikes”.

When asked for a comment, a Cardiff University Spokesperson told the The Cardiff Tab: “We recognise that the recent periods of industrial action caused disruption, inconvenience and distress for some of our students.

“That’s why we worked closely with our academic schools and colleagues to make suitable adjustments to ensure students were able to meet their programme requirements and could graduate or progress to the next stage of their programme.

“However, for those students who were still dissatisfied we developed a bespoke complaints procedure. It was designed to provide students with an opportunity to raise specific issues relating to the industrial action, taking into consideration advice from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator’s (OIA). As is common with many complaints procedures, a time limit was set. This enables complaints to be considered in a timely way and, where necessary, remedies to be put in place.

“As a result, a number of financial gestures of goodwill were made to students in acknowledgement of their learning and teaching being impacted during the industrial action.”

They ended their statement by saying: “We do not accept that our complaints procedure was hidden”, as “the relevant information, including the closing date, was made available via our student intranet and publicised to all students via Student News”.

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