Universities Obliged to Reimburse Students for Lost Teaching Time During Lockdown

A university has been required to repay a student £5,000 for the reduced teaching during the first lockdown in England, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), an independent body that reviews student complaints about higher education institutions in England and Wales under the Higher Education Act 2004, has noted.

According to Erudera.com, OIA has released several students’ complaints about COVID-19 affecting their studies. The latter have complained about accommodation, lack of courses’ practical side as well as the interrupted learning.

During 2020, OIA received a total of 2,604 complaints, out of which 500 were about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the students addressing complaints was an international medical student who paid £38,000 course fees at an undisclosed university. The latter received £5,000 after the university canceled all clinical placements due to the pandemic, leaving the student without completing a practical experience.

Similarly, a healthcare student was also granted £1,500 for the “inconvenience and significant disappointment” that the student faced due to lab-based research project cancellation, which was part of their Master’s studies. 

According to the student, omitting the practical techniques required in the labor market will bring a disadvantage when applying for jobs.

£200 was given to a student after the latter failed to attend 14 hours of learning time due to industrial action, which happened between November and December 2019, along with the disruption triggered by the pandemic.

However, not every complaint has been taken into consideration by the adjudicator.

One student was not eligible to receive the compensation after paying university accommodation fees in three installments before the first lockdown was announced.

The student required a refund for the fees paid in March 2020 after the institution said they must consider returning back home.

Whereas, the same student’s university said they did not ask the latter to pay the third installment in April but also did not refund the amounts that students paid during the six-week period before that.

A spokeswoman for the Universities UK said that students should tell their universities if they have a complaint, claiming that the universities are developing plans to support students once they return to campuses.

On the other hand, England’s Universities Minister Michelle Donelan in February notified about an additional amount of £50m for student hardship funds, on top of £20m decided as a response to the challenges students have been facing during the pandemic. 

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