More than 85 per cent of university students want full or partial tuition fee refund, survey suggests

Majority say blended learning has been ‘ineffective’ or ‘very ineffective’ in poll

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 08 December 2020 16:17
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MP says students have been 'greatly mistreated' by government

More than 85 per cent of university students feel they should get some form of tuition fee refund this year, according to a new survey.

A majority of those polled also said blended learning – a mixture of online and in-person teaching offered during the pandemic – had been either “ineffective” or “very ineffective”.

Students have previously told The Independent their fees should be reduced this year as their university experience had been fundamentally altered during the pandemic.

Many said online learning was not the same as face-to-face teaching, while campus facilities and resources were more difficult to access due to coronavirus. 

A new survey by Quizlet, a digital learning platform, found 86 per cent of respondents thought they should get either a full or partial tuition fee refund this year.

While the majority gave critical responses when asked about blended learning, 47 per cent thought blended learning had been “effective” or “very effective”.

The survey – which polled more than 1,000 students – found more than 90 per cent said they had faced difficulties making friends on their course this year.

The Independent previously reported on a law firm being “inundated” with calls over the past term from students unhappy with their tuition fees amid coronavirus disruption.

In response to a parliamentary petition calling for a partial tuition fee refund due to Covid-19, which was signed tens of thousands of times, the government said: “Higher education providers must deliver high-quality courses. If students are unhappy, they should first complain to their provider, or the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.” 

While universities are responsible for what fees they charge, the government has “made clear” they must maintain quality and academic standards, and the same quantity of tuition, if they continue to charge the maximum amount allowed, a Department for Education spokesperson said.

"They should ensure all students, regardless of their background, have the resources they need to study remotely," they added. 

Universities UK said: “We understand this may not be the university experience which would be delivered in a normal year, but this is not a normal year and universities are investing heavily in Covid-19 safety measures, enhanced digital learning platforms, and additional learning and wellbeing support. 

"Universities continue to listen to their own students with regular surveys and opportunities to comment, with very positive feedback from students on the blended learning approach and acknowledging the support they have received from their lecturers and university at this challenging time."

The body, which represents 140 universities, added: “If students have a complaint, they should speak to their universities in the first instance.”

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