London universities facing costly legal action from lockdown students

Tap above to watch video report by Rags Martel

London universities are facing costly legal action from students whose education was disrupted during the pandemic.

Some were paying up to £40,000 for reduced timetables and lectures that were cancelled or moved online.

Former University College London (UCL) student David Hamon told ITV News he didn’t feel that he got value for money from his £15,000 a year masters course in international politics in 2020 - 2021.

"There’s a reason online degrees are usually cheaper than in-person degrees.

"It’s because the experience is not equivalent, the tuition is not equivalent and the social experience is not equivalent - and because the costs are lower.”

At least 20,000 "lockdown students" are joining together against universities that charged full tuition fees during lockdown.

Jowita Maniak, a UCL forensic science graduate, can’t find work because her course failed to give her any practical experience.

“I’m a Covid student and all my experience is from online learning and virtual crime scenes and virtual lab practicals and unfortunately they won’t let someone like me onto real cases in real jobs”.

Lawyers representing students on a no-win, no-fee basis say the universities that received full tuition fees from students made more money than if they hadn't been in lockdown.

UCL, one of the universities involved in the legal action, told ITV News it "prioritised health and safety during the lockdowns as it followed government advice".

"A high-quality academic experience was provided to students," it added in a statement.

The first hearing against UCL will be in February 2023.

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