University students call for fee reductions due to lack of face to face teaching

Pressure is continuing to mount on the government over the treatment of University students during the pandemic. 

It follows the announcement that many won't be allowed to return to campus for at least another month, even though all other parts of the education system are back with face to face teaching full time.  

The government says they need to continue to act with caution and limit travel.

The Universities Minister told the House of Commons that they have put in all sorts of measures to help students including financial support and allowing those who need to return to do so, if it is because of their mental wellbeing or a lack of appropriate study space at home.

Second year student Kiera Murrell says any changes the government makes now are too little too late after a year of online learning.

She believes students deserve refunds and should only be charged around £6,000, the same amount charged in fees by the Open University which operates online.

Her university and many others say they have continued to deliver high quality online learning throughout the past year.

  • Kiera Murrell, second year student:

But figures show an estimated 75 per cent of students have already returned to their term-time addresses.

The Vice Chancellor of Brighton University, Debra Humphris, says her university is following public health advice to the letter and adhering to government guidance not to allow students back.

However, she says the move makes little sense when pubs and hairdressers are open and so many measures are in place on campus to restrict the spread of Covid. This includes a stringent Covid-19 testing programme using lateral flow tests.

  • Debra Humphris, Vice Chancellor, Brighton University:

The Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading, Julian Rich, says infection rates in the Reading and Wokingham areas are low.

He believes returning to campus is safe for more students, with around 3,000 having already returned because they are studying on courses with a practical element.

However, he says universities have to adhere to government guidance and waiting for a full return is part of everyone doing their bit for the pandemic.

  • Julian Rich, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Reading: