I’m a post-grad who just paid £4,000 for one week of teaching this term, and I’m fed up

Between coronavirus and the strikes, I’ve lost thousands of pounds worth of education

I am a Master’s student in Occupational Psychology at Sheffield, who – due to coronavirus and strike cancellations – just paid £4,165 for one weeks’ worth of education in a whole term. And I want it back.

It’s not just me, though. I’m voicing and expressing a major worry for the majority of the student population, especially the postgrads among us. Currently, the government has implemented new policies for the safety and health of the nation’s population to deal with the novel COVID-19. I agree that this is a health crisis, but the huge economic impacts cannot be overlooked, affecting businesses and individuals, like you and me.

The University of Sheffield, where I study, has been on strike this academic year for 22 days (between 25th November 2019 – 6th December 2019, and 24th February 2020 – 13th March 2020). It’s well known that the strikes have already put a strain on our wellbeing and disrupted our learning in the process. Additionally, in my school, we have not received any teaching since the strikes have ended, and to make matters worse, it has been just announced teaching will remain delayed until 20th of April because of the pandemic, further adding to the adverse impacts of  missed education. Eight weeks of teaching have been missed in total. And this doesn’t even include what may be missed next term, which we currently believe we are still going to have to pay for.

The average British student pays £12,250 for my course. On average, it costs £490 per week. This means that about £3,920 per student has been spent on missed education in total so far.

This is not fair for us paying students who committed to a postgraduate course, who paid £4,165 for this semester alone (6th February 2020 – 1st May 2020), and only received just over one weeks’ worth of education.

or a Master’s, I only receive one loan to pay for tuition, rent and living costs. I work two jobs to help support these expenditures, and I know there are many like me. My current part-time work has been suspended due to the virus, and now I am deeply worried about paying for both my rent and the final tuition fee, which is due on the 1st May 2020 (£4,042.50). Although this is a stressful and unpredictable time for us all, I shouldn’t have to pay the equivalent as previous students have in the past, as compared to ourselves, they have received full teaching, lecture content, resources and academic support.

Adding onto the financial burden we students have and will face, the stress and mental strain that we had during the strikes are only worsening throughout this pandemic. With so many unanswered questions, we are unsure if we can complete our courses to the best of our ability. The constant worry of how much we have spend on our courses and deprived education has left us feeling distressed, confused and disappointed.

The government has provided many possible solutions to businesses in this hardship. This includes grants of up to £10,000 for smaller businesses. We also need to same considerations, as we are still expected to study, pay our tuition fees and living costs, and with lack of opportunity to gain income from part-time work, this is a huge problem for us. Students deserve the same attention and focus.

Tuition loans should be converted into a grant. It is not fair to make us not only pay for education we have lost, but to make us repay for it with interest. The final tuition fees should be reduced significantly, if not completely, to compensate for all the missed education. If you feel the same, set up petitions, make some noise, talk to your uni – they can’t get away with this and still make as much money as they did last year, for a fraction of the services they should be providing. At this point, it just isn’t fair. If you’re not kicking up a fuss for undergraduate students, at least do it for your postgrads – because twelve grand is an awful lot of money.