Calls for students to get refunds after paying full price fees for online learning during pandemic

Three North East Universities continued to charge maximum fees while receiving £115 million in taxpayer funded furlough cash. Credit: PA Images

There's calls for students to get refunds after Universities profited during the pandemic.

Newcastle, York and Durham Universities continued to charge the maximum fees of £9,250 -while receiving £115 million in taxpayer funded furlough cash - when most courses were delivered through online learning.

Some top North East universities have added £2.2 billion to their cash funds during the pandemic.

The key findings of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request have prompted the chair of the Commons Education committee to call for students to be given their money back. 

Despite the impact of the pandemic, Russell Group universities have experienced the biggest increase in student numbers in a decade, after nearly half of British students (44.8 per cent) were awarded A or A* in their A-level results this year.

However, the Russell Group says the new university places were created at a time when the institutions were having to spend more per student due to rising inflation.

The average course deficit for each medical student was around £2,400, £1,900 for STEM subjects and a £1,000 deficit for classroom based subjects, according to Russell Group analysis.

The National Union of Students (NUS) said: "It's completely unfathomable that so many universities have profited throughout the pandemic.

"Whilst students were accessing food banks, being threatened with evictions and visa withdrawals, universities continued to put students last.

"This is only possible because education is viewed as a product which can be bought and sold for profit."

A Russell Group spokesperson said: “Our universities have worked hard to prioritise students and provide the best possible experience during the pandemic, investing significantly in digital learning and increasing wider support services.

"In-person teaching continued for essential courses throughout the pandemic and since September has been in place for the vast majority of all courses including seminars, small group classes and lab work."