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Universities forced to compensate students for reduced courses during pandemic



A university has been told to pay a student £5,000 in compensation for lost teaching time during the first coronavirus lockdown.

Restrictions saw many universities move learning online but for students studying subjects with vital practical components, this may have left them at a disadvantage.

A number of students have made official complaints about the impact of the pandemic on their accommodation situation and their learning.

The student awarded £5,000 was an international medical student who had been studying at an unidentified university with fees of £38,000.

The university stopped clinical placements due to the pandemic, leaving students without vital practical experience.

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) said the award was due to the “severe disappointment and inconvenience” the student experienced because the final year of studies had been “less valuable” than expected.

Also among the cases were:

  • A healthcare student given £1,500 after a lab-based research project was cancelled as part of their master’s course, which left them disadvantaged in the job market, they argued
  • £200 for a student who missed out on 14 hours of learning time due to industrial action late in 2019 and the coronavirus

Felicity Mitchell, independent adjudicator, said: “The case summaries reflect the hugely challenging and complex situations that students and providers have faced as a result of the pandemic.

“Where possible we try to reach a settlement and we are pleased that in many cases providers and students have been very open to this.

“The summaries illustrate our approach to deciding what is fair and reasonable in these kinds of situations. We hope they will be helpful to providers and students.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We have been clear that the quality and quantity of tuition should not drop, and should be accessible to all students, regardless of their background. The Office for Students is monitoring online teaching to ensure this is the case.”

The National Union of Students (NUS) has demanded debt relief and refunds for people whose studies were disrupted.

It is calling for a more simplified complaints process, claiming students have been “passed from pillar to post” and that some institutions have disregarded their concerns.

Students have up to 12 months to lodge a complaint, but must first air their grievances with their university.



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