More than 3000 people have signed a petition organised by a student group to “partially refund Loughborough University Tuition Fees” over concerns that COVID-19 has reduced the quality of teaching.
The petition follows others across the country calling for similar measures to be put in place, including a petition on the UK Parliament website that is calling for the Government to reduce fees to £3000 this year, which has been signed by over 375,000 people.
The students creating the petition, as the ‘Loughborough Scenes’ group, are asking to be “compensated for the high level of tuition that we agreed to pay for, but didn’t receive.”
The Government confirmed this week that in-person teaching would not resume until mid-February at the earliest, and told students not to return to campuses until then.
The petition applauds “Loughborough University’s efforts for putting student health and safety as their main priority”, but claims that “the reduction of in-person lectures and implementing remote online and on demand lectures” has led to the University failing “to provide an adequate learning environment.”
The students claim that “online lectures have made it difficult for students to fully engage with our learning” and that “on-demand course modules have failed to provide students with further assistance and insight into our learning”.
Despite this, a representative from Loughborough Scenes told Label that “we want to make it clear that this is not primarily about seeking partial reimbursement for tuition fees”, and that they hoped “by unifying the students and showing the university how passionate we all are on this issue, they can adapt/implement any other potential forms of compensation to help the students through this tough upcoming exam period”.
The University, when approached for comment, told Label that “there are no plans to refund tuition fees”, and that it intends “to deliver the learning outcomes to students it has committed to.”
Separately, the University has announced that they will be refunding all “accommodation fees for future Semester 1 weeks where students do not or are unable to return to their accommodation because of lockdown”, to help students who may be struggling through this “particularly worrying time.” A similar initiative was also made in April last year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, answering a question from a member of the public, today told reporters that the government had to think “very hard about the deal that students are getting”, and would be looking at “what more we can do to support students and help them in what has been a very difficult time.”
“We’re looking at that now and you’ll be hearing more about that from the education Secretary”, he added.
Loughborough Students’ Union has so far not shown support for the petition, instead stating that “we must first ensure that we have all the necessary information”.
Students are instead encouraged to submit their queries to a COVID-19 Q&A Form until Sunday, which Education Executive Officer, Ana-Maria Bilciu says “will enable us to collate and address the wide array of concerns currently surrounding your University experience”.
The Union then intends to liaise “with various Union and University colleagues to provide answers to your concerns.”
She added that “it would be simply wrong to pretend that we are experts or knowledgeable enough in some of the situations that we have seen being discussed by the student body”, and that it would not help “if I tackled tuition fees on my own, and misinformed you”.
Other Students’ Unions (such as at the University of Nottingham) have openly supported students in their petitions for rent strikes, no-detriment policies and reductions in tuition fees.
“We feel that we speak for the majority of the student population at Lboro”, the Loughborough Scenes group said, “when we say that the performance of online learning materials / learning support / mental health services support etc haven’t been worthy of paying £9,250 like previous years (considering the current circumstances).”
You can view the petition on Change.org here.
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Last updated at 17:30 on 7/1/21.