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Petition Require universities to reimburse students' tuition fees during strike action

The University and College Union has repeatedly called on its members to strike. However, strikes are ineffective if students, not employees are the main source of revenue. For this to change, government needs to step in and require universities to reimburse tuition fees lost due to strike action.

More details

Students must pay fees in full even when academic support and lectures are permanently lost due to strike action. Doing right by the students will force universities to address the concerns raised by employees, hence preventing future strikes. We urge Parliament to demand that universities reimburse the fees corresponding to refused services. It is a tactic on the side of justice making the universities realise that they are not a business but ultimately a service for the betterment of society.

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Government responded

This response was given on 21 April 2020

Strike action is a matter for Universities to address, not Government. We expect universities to make efforts to replace lost learning or financial compensation if appropriate.

Read the response in full

Students rightly want a good deal for their investment in higher education. If any student is affected by strike action, universities are expected to take appropriate action and consider their obligations under consumer law and students’ consumer rights. This includes ensuring that a range of appropriate remedies and mitigations are available, to prevent or minimise the effects of any strike action upon their students, which may include making efforts to replace lost learning opportunities, or financial compensation.

The Government believes that students should be at the heart of the higher education system. The Office for Students (OfS) was set up to regulate the higher education sector in England, protect student rights and ensure the sector is delivering real value for money. It has provided guidance for students affected by industrial action. They expect providers to do all they can to avoid disruption for students, to abide by the conditions of registering with the OfS and to maintain the delivery of higher education.

Students are entitled to make a complaint about the way their university handles any disruption caused by industrial action, should they feel their experience has been adversely affected. In the first instance, students should speak to their university to see if they can resolve their complaint. If this is not possible or if they are unhappy with the outcome, they can take their complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The OIA covers student complaints concerning higher education providers in England and Wales and has published guidance on their approach to complaints and case studies indicating good practice and the type of compensation or remedial action they have previously recommended in this area. Case studies published by the OIA in 2019 indicate that financial compensation was recommended in a number of cases.

Department for Education

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300528)

Other parliamentary business

Watch the Petitions Committee question Universities Minister on the impact of coronavirus on YouTube

At 3.30pm tomorrow, Thursday 11 June,the Petitions Committee will question Minister for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on universities and students.

Watch the session live:
YouTube: https://youtu.be/jIxlS5yuzHE
Parliamentlive.TV: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/5859f062-7772-40c3-83c5-055ae87df55d

Find out more: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146769/petitions-committee-to-question-universities-minister-on-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-university-students/

Original Government Response

Where students are affected by strike action, we expect universities to take steps to mitigate its impact. This could include making efforts to replace lost learning or financial compensation.

Students rightly want a good deal for their investment in higher education. If any student is affected by strike action, universities are expected to take appropriate action and consider their obligations under consumer law and students’ consumer rights. This includes ensuring that a range of appropriate remedies and mitigations are available, to prevent or minimise the effects of any strike action upon their students, which may include making efforts to replace lost learning opportunities or financial compensation.

The Government believes that students should be at the heart of the higher education system. The Office for Students (OfS) was set up to regulate the higher education sector in England, protect student rights and ensure the sector is delivering real value for money. It has provided guidance for students affected by industrial action. They expect providers to do all they can to avoid disruption for students, to abide by the conditions of registering with the OfS and to maintain the delivery of higher education.

Students are entitled to make a complaint about the way their university handles any disruption caused by industrial action, should they feel their experience has been adversely affected. In the first instance, students should speak to their university to see if they can resolve their complaint. If this is not possible or if they are unhappy with the outcome, they can take their complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The OIA covers student complaints concerning higher education providers in England and Wales and has published guidance on their approach to complaints and case studies indicating good practice and the type of compensation or remedial action they have previously recommended in this area. Case studies published by the OIA in 2019 indicate that financial compensation was recommended in a number of cases.

Department for Education.

This response was given on 26 March 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

Petitions Committee investigates the impact of COVID-19 on universities and students

On Thursday 7 May, the Petitions Committee is holding two formal oral evidence sessions on coronavirus. The second of these will look at the impact on students and universities, prompted by a petition you signed. The evidence sessions form part of the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into COVID-19.

Watch the session live from around 3.30pm on Thursday: https://youtu.be/TOFPLeE7dqQ

In advance of the sessions, the Petitions Committee asked those who has signed the petitions to share their experiences. The Committee is very grateful to all those who shared their views.

The session on the impact of coronavirus on students and universities will run from 15:30-16:30. It follows a petition signed by over 330,000 people which calls for universities to reimburse all students of this year’s fees due to strikes and COVID-19.

Read more about both sessions: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146332/petitions-committee-investigate-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-students-and-on-maternity-leave/

The evidence sessions, which will be led by Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP, will explore the overarching issues raised by these petitions and will help the Committee better understand these issues and inform their constructive scrutiny of the Government on behalf of petitioners.

The evidence session will start around 15:30 on Thursday 7 May, and can be watched live on YouTube: https://youtu.be/TOFPLeE7dqQ

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons. It is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter
@HoCpetitions or on their
website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

Share your views on the impact of coronavirus on students

The Petitions Committee is looking into the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on university students, and would like to hear your views. This is in response to several petitions on the subject, including the petition you signed.

You can share your experiences by completing this short survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/KX4LJZ/.

The survey will stay open until Friday 15 May. The Committee will be looking at this issue next week, and your answers will help them understand the issues people are facing and will inform the questions they put to the Government. Any responses to the survey received after next week will still be considered by the Committee, and could inform further work on this issue.

The Committee might publish some or all of your responses, or read them out when they’re asking questions in a public Committee meeting or in the House of Commons, so please don’t share any personal information that you don’t want to be public.

We will update you on the Committee’s session, including a link to watch the session live. You can also get updates by following the Committee on Twitter @HOCpetitions or on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/.

What is the Petitions Committee?
The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs which is independent of the Government. It considers petitions submitted to https://petition.parliament.uk and paper (public) petitions.

Petitions Committee holds formal evidence session on impact of Covid-19 on students and universities

We emailed people who had signed this petition by 30 April to ask you to share your experiences.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this survey - we have received over 27,000 responses and counting.

Your responses informed the questions the Petitions Committee put to petitioners and representatives of students, lecturers and universities in a formal evidence session last Thursday 7 May.

Watch Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Committee, express her thanks to everyone who completed the survey: https://youtu.be/6UYHW6GaMSQ

The session was really useful in helping the Committee better understand the impact of the pandemic on students and universities, and will inform the next steps in the Committee's ongoing inquiry into the Government's response to coronavirus.

Watch the full session on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOFPLeE7dqQ&t=71m50s

Find out more about the session, read a summary of what petitioners told us of their experiences, and a transcript of the session here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146332/petitions-committee-investigate-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-students-and-on-maternity-leave/

We’ll email you again to let you know about any more action the Committee takes.

Who are we?
We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information
You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

The Government has also created an online service to help you out what you can do if you’re struggling because of coronavirus: https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

Report: The impact of COVID-19 on university students

We have today – Monday 13 July - published our report on the impact of Covid-19 on students and university. This report is a result of our inquiry into this petition, among others.

The report sets out the evidence we have heard from students, university staff, and Government Ministers, and recommends a number of actions we feel the Government needs to take to address the impact of COVID-19 on students and universities.

In the report, the Committee recognises the huge disruption that Covid-19 has had on students’ education, and calls for the Government to take a number of actions, including:
- provide guidance on how students can claim refunds or repeat parts of their courses
- establish an easier system for students who believe they haven’t received the education to which they are entitled to seek a refund
- provide financial support for students who may wish to extend their education; and
- consider providing emergency funding to universities, to support them in refunding eligible students

Read the full report from 00:01 on Monday: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmpetitions/527/52702.htm

Petitions Committee to question Universities Minister on the impact of Coronavirus on 11 June

The Petitions Committee will later this week virtually question Minister for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt across the higher education sector.

Watch the session live here from 15:30 on Thursday 11 June: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/5859f062-7772-40c3-83c5-055ae87df55d

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, will lead the session, which will include questions on some of the vital issues being raised by students through petitions as the coronavirus crisis continues to frustrate and wreak havoc with the higher education system across the UK.

This latest evidence session comes as unprecedented numbers continue to engage with Parliament and the Petitions Committee on this issue – with tens of thousands of people sharing their views and concerns through social media, including more than 28,000 respondents to a survey on the issue.

In an evidence hearing organised by the Petitions Committee last month, Sophie Quinn, a student and the author of the initial petition, told Members how students felt “angry” and “frustrated” as Coronavirus prevented them from getting the education they had paid for. The University of Liverpool student told the Committee "this whole year has been disrupted by strikes and the coronavirus,” before adding that students feel “completely ignored” over the issue.

Read Sophie’s petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302855

Find out more: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146769/petitions-committee-to-question-universities-minister-on-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-university-students/

Update on Petitions Committee’s work on students, universities and covid-19

Last week, the Petitions Committee heard oral evidence from the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, about the effect of coronavirus on students.

You can watch the session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIxlS5yuzHE&feature=youtu.be
Find out more here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146769/petitions-committee-to-question-universities-minister-on-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-university-students/

During the session, the Committee pressed the Minister for answers to some of the vital issues raised by students through petitions, as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc with the UK's higher education system.

Next steps
The Committee will now produce a report, bringing together everything you have shared with us on Facebook and through online surveys, as well as the formal evidence it has received.

The Committee will report its findings and make recommendations to the Government, who will then need to respond and decide whether and how to act on them. You will receive another update as soon as the release date for the report is confirmed.

In the meantime, you can contact your local MP to encourage them to put pressure on the Government on your behalf. Find their contact details here: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP

Once again, the Committee would like to thank everyone who has shared their experiences. This information has been vital in informing the work of the Committee so far, and will inform our recommendations to the Government.

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