93 per cent of Exeter students think their tuition fees aren’t justifiable this year
‘One thing that would justify full price tuition fees would be putting our fees towards wellbeing spending, but they haven’t even done that’
93 per cent of Exeter students who voted in a poll said they didn’t think their tuition fees for this year were worth the full amount being paid.
The poll, which featured on The Tab Exeter’s Instagram, asked students if they thought their tuition fees were worth it this year, to which 182 students voted for “yes” and 2,275 students voted for “no”.
This followed the university’s email to students where they said the ‘no detriment’ safety policy implemented for summer assessments this year would not be renewed for 2020/21. The Tab Exeter asked students if they thought the policy should be reinstated, and 1,208 students voted for “yes”, whilst 355 voted for “no”.
The Tab Exeter spoke to students about their opinions on paying full tuition fees this year. Many students told us about the lack of “blended learning” which the university promised returning students, and how they feel the education they are currently receiving is “not worth it”. Here’s what Exeter students had to say on the matter:
‘They absolutely cannot justify asking us to pay full tuition fees for this year’
Alice* a third year student, told us how she didn’t believe the university could justify asking students to pay full tuition fees for this year: “They absolutely cannot justify asking us to pay full tuition fees for this year.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous and simply shows how little the university actually cares about students. Why am I paying full tuition fees for pre-recorded lectures and two 50 minute seminars a week when my seminars last year were two and a half hours long? I am a third year student and have pretty much taught the majority of my course to myself.
“I haven’t had a single teaching session in person, it has all been online, so the blended learning that the university promised we would receive, I haven’t seen at all.
“One thing that would justify us paying full price tuition fees would be, for example, putting our fees towards wellbeing spending to ensure all students have access to the service, but they haven’t even done that. In fact, they’ve reduced wellbeing support staff for this year.
“And yet they’ve put money into paying people to walk round campus telling us to keep our masks on. It seems to be only about saving the reputation of the university than the actual wellbeing of students.
“I think it’s truly shocking how students have been treated by their institutions and by the government. The lack of support we’ve been given is appalling.”
‘I was assured I would have a blend of mixed learning and it was only after I moved into my accommodation and started paying rent, was I told that this was not the case’
Alex* spoke to The Tab Exeter about moving back to university, only to be told that all her learning would be moved online, saying she has had “a total of two hours of contact time per week and all of it has been online since the end of September. I was assured I would have a blend of mixed learning and it was only after I moved into my accommodation and started paying rent, was I told that this was not the case.”
Alex said she spoke to her personal tutor about her mental health and said “although they were lovely, they only suggested that I should go on more walks and said that I would be experiencing stress in third year anyway.”
She told us: “I am in a one room studio with another person, with no accessible social areas, I have no in person teaching and I feel like an essay machine – just pumping out essays and assessments based on my own self-taught research and reading.
“University can be treated like a business in some aspects but not others. Students are speaking out and saying that the experience is nowhere near the same, only to have the universities and government claim that this lived experience is not true and that we are being given the same standard of teaching.
“I would absolutely say that, we are not getting the same contact hours and it is far more independent and self-lead and therefore our non-reduced fees don’t match the experience we are receiving. It feels like the uni is just trying to cover its own back.”
‘I spend my life in my room and get little to no social life’
Josh* an international student, said he is spending £18k a year and “it is not worth it – I spend my life in my room and get little to no social life. Just to make it clear, that is £18k for uni fees plus an extra £8.5k for accommodation.”
Josh said: “I am not allowed to meet up with my friends because they live on the floor above me but I can meet them in the dinner halls which are always packed. We barely have any cases and yet our classes are still online.
“I think it is disgusting and I feel like the uni is just trying to maximise profits while keeping costs down. I can’t focus online and breakout rooms where we cant see anyone or know anyone surely doesn’t help.”
‘I think the uni is doing its best’
Callum* told us: “I think the uni is doing its best. But I think it would be important for them to prove to us students that they really still need our £9k to operate. What are the costs and savings of online learning for the university as a business when compared to regular on campus learning?”
‘In the past, the uni has said it is not enough to watch lectures online and that students who don’t have in person teaching get worse grades’
Speaking to The Exeter Tab, Zara* told us about the effects of online lectures: “In the past, the uni has said it’s not enough to watch lectures online and that students who don’t have in person teaching get worse grades.
“But all that seems to have been forgotten and instead of addressing the problem, the uni is just giving out more and more work. How can online teaching be insufficient last year but worth £9,250 this year?”
‘We simply have not had the same access to facilities’
Fred* spoke to us about the lack of access to facilities, saying “we simply have not had the same access to facilities as we would have had other years and that is supposedly a huge part of what fees cover.”
He argued that “the one set of fees that you could argue don’t need to be reduced is accommodation because we’ve all basically been shut in halls and are using them to the max!”
‘We are just cash cows’
Tom* said that students were being “scammed” and “the fact of the matter is that we are just cash cows”.
He told us his course hasn’t included blended learning “like they promised it would in the numerous emails they sent in August”, and says “I’m also wasting money on this room which has mould and stinks.”
‘Reduced study spaces are affecting my education’
Dione* spoke to The Tab Exeter about the effects fo reduced study spaces, saying: “One thing I’m finding has affected my education the most is the reduced accessibility of study spaces. I was really excited about the 24-hour library when I chose Exeter, but it shuts early every day.
“The online systems for booking study spaces haven’t been working properly – I was advised by some senior student helpers to just fill free seats in The Sanctuary because it’s not actually possible to book any slots.”
Dione told us she moved home because it “feels safer, I have more space and more freedom (use of a car), so I’ve requested to switch to remote learning which should be well-facilitated under these conditions but some of my classes are still showing up as in-person on my timetable and consequently I’m having to ask other students on my course for links to their online classes so I’m not missing out on content.”
She too tells us of her lack of in-person teaching, saying she has “no live lectures – they’re all recorded. There are regular Q&A sessions online which are useless if you’re not completely up to date with the content, which I’m not because isolating and being in lockdown has taken a toll on my mental health and affected my ability to work”.
She says: “I’m finding it near impossible to focus in a live session if I’m just sat in my room. I need distinction between my home and academic lives in order to focus properly.
“It’s not worth £9,250. I’d happily pay half of that for the quality of education we’re receiving at the moment. But bearing in mind the prices of a degree from the Open University, it’s a bit ridiculous.”
‘If working under Covid restrictions is costing more or the same amount than a regular year then the fees are justified’
Harry* spoke to The Tab Exeter about his need for transparency from the uni about what student’s fees are being spent on: “I don’t think we can judge this until we have full transparency from the university on what our fees are spent on. If working under Covid restrictions is costing more or the same amount than a regular year then in my opinion the fees are justified, but if the university is saving money then a refund would be logical.
“I understand that students don’t feel like they are getting their money’s worth but the university has no choice but to comply with government guidelines, which to be honest are pretty reasonable with regards to limiting the spread. Although, I do have two/three contact hours per week on campus but I have friends who also do humanities subjects and have all their studies online.”
Exeter University declined to comment.