Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Refund university students for 3rd Semester Tuition 2020

As students are unable to access facilities or continue with their eduction at their university setting in the following semester, we would like to request that the government considers refunding tuition payments for Semester 3.

More details

Majority of Universities across England have closed early to ensure safety for all students and staff in light of the recent situation regarding COVID-19.
In addition to moving teaching events online, these closures have resulted in students having no access to facilities that they have paid for (such as the library, students union, student support services, etc.)
It would be unfair to charge students for Semester 3 as services paid for will not be provided.

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Parliament will consider this for a debate

Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate

Waiting for 18 days for a debate date

Government responded

This response was given on 19 May 2020

HE providers must deliver high quality courses.
If students are unhappy they should first complain to their provider and if their concerns are unresolved they can ask OIA to consider their complaint.

Read the response in full

Government recognises the challenges facing students and supports them in their desire to continue receiving the best possible learning experience from our higher education (HE) providers. We consider it in the best interests of all students that they receive a high quality online education during this unprecedented period that allows them to progress and to complete their studies within the time period they had been anticipating.

There are some fantastic and innovative examples of high-quality online learning being delivered by HE providers across the country, and the sector is working hard to provide and prepare learning materials for the summer and autumn terms. Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees. In deciding to keep charging full fees, universities will of course want to ensure that they can continue to deliver courses which are fit for purpose and help students progress their qualifications. Any refund is a matter for universities, so we are not considering a write off of tuition fee loans.

We believe that students should be at the heart of the HE system. The Office for Students (OfS), the regulator in England, has committed to protecting students throughout the present crisis and has published guidance for registered providers on how it will approach the regulation of quality and standards, and this includes practical ways in which students can complete their studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are upheld. Providers are already making these arrangements and the Government is in continuous contact with the sector to support the continuation of teaching and assessment. The Government is also working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education to ensure students continue to leave HE with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

The Government’s clear expectation is that HE providers should make all reasonable efforts to enable students to complete their studies. If providers are unable to facilitate adequate online tuition, they should seek to avoid charging students for any additional terms they may need to undergo as a consequence – avoiding effectively charging them twice. Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the provider and student.

It is important that students continue to receive a good standard of education, and they are entitled to make a complaint if they feel that their HE provider has not taken sufficient steps to appropriately respond to this situation. In the first instance, students should speak to their provider to see if they can resolve their complaint. We expect student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly, and sympathetically by providers to resolve any concerns. If a student at a provider in England or Wales is not satisfied with their provider’s response, they can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) to consider their complaint.

Government also understands that it may be difficult for some students to finish their current year of study for personal reasons, and that this will undoubtedly be a source of concern to many. Where students are unable to complete their current year of study or need to repeat a year due to compelling personal reasons, they may be eligible for an additional year of fee loan support above their standard entitlement under existing arrangements.

Finally, Government has worked with the OfS to enable providers to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers will be able to use the funding, totalling £46m across April and May, towards student hardship funds and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.

Government has previously responded to a petition concerning tuition fee refunds for both COVID-19 disruption and strike action. The response can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302855

Department for Education

Other parliamentary business

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

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