The Students’ Union has met with several senior members of the University to discuss the open letter signed by over 5000 students asking for action to redress some of the major issues facing students over the pandemic and for partial tuition fee refunds. In addition, the Students’ Union asked for clarity on why it was decided that the fees for International Students would rise next academic year when these students had been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
In attendance were the Provost, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Student Journey and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Students.
Below we have listed the points put to the University from the open letter and the University response.
- The University to clearly state a no detriment policy and explain how this will benefit students, especially for those students where the course hasn’t run previously
CUSU thanked the University for reintroducing a no-detriment policy and sharing it with students.
- Clarity on grading for students, including a calculator or spreadsheet.
Although the no-detriment policy is welcome, it is confusing for students who wish to calculate what grades they need to achieve for certain results. The University agreed to produce a video explaining the policy and making it easier for students to work out the grades they can achieve.
- Students who wish to request two-week extensions to any assessments citing Covid-19 will be automatically granted without any evidence.
CUSU thanked the University for introducing this policy.
- Students who wish to defer time-constrained assessments citing Covid-19 will automatically be granted a deferral without any evidence.
CUSU thanked the University for introducing this policy.
- A clear, visual break down of how students’ tuition fees are spent, asking the University to show percentages of where tuition fees are allocated across the University including staff, buildings, software etc
The University agreed to work with the Students’ Union to produce a guide for students showing income and expenditure. Although the Students’ Union asked for more detail at a course and school level, the University said they would be unable to provide this.
- The University to consider partial refunds in tuition fees where funds are allocated that students haven’t directly benefitted.
The University maintained that although the pandemic had created a terrible situation for students and everyone involved in the University, that learning outcomes had still been met. The University is facing significant increases in expenditure and a reduction in income this year and has had to spend millions more than budgeted on speeding up the implementation of new technology and on new staff to support this. There has been minimal specific support for Universities from government and University staff have worked incredibly hard on making the experience as good as it could be under the circumstances. In some areas, there might be examples of students feeling that they haven’t received as good as an experience as they should have and as others had and the University would encourage any student who feels this is the case to raise this through their course reps so it can be dealt with by the course concerned.
- The University to consider a partial refund of fees on a case by case basis whereby postgraduate researchers are individually assessed to ascertain the effect the pandemic has had on their ability to do research.
The University has prioritised postgraduate researchers in terms of access to labs and other campus facilities. The University believes they have given PGRs as much access as the government has allowed. They encourage PGRs who are unhappy to raise this with their supervisor so it can be discussed at a local level. In addition, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research has arranged to meet the PGR Student Rep to discuss PGR related matters.
- The University to reverse the decision to increase international student fees next academic year.
The increase in international fees reflects that the University faces rising costs each year. The University is a ‘not for profit’ or non commercial organisation so does not look to make a profit. But it can’t make sustained losses every year and aims in to make a small surplus so that it can continue to invest in order to meet its ambitions of providing excellent, modern, innovative education for its students.
The University and Students’ Union also discussed that the global jobs market has been severely impacted by the pandemic and graduates would need more support with employability. It was agreed to work together to find how the University could fund extra support in this area and announce initiatives as soon as we are able.
The Students’ Union will continue to press the University and the Government for tuition fee refunds to recognise the changes to student experience. Our next steps are to have meetings with the senior managers in the University responsible for international students and postgraduate research students.
We encourage all international students to sign this petition to put pressure on the government:
We encourage all students to support the National Union of Students in their campaign here:
We encourage any student who is unhappy with the experience they have had this year on their course to raise it with their Course Rep. If you can prove the experience does not meet that which you were promised we encourage you to follow the University complaints procedure here.:
We will continue to work with the University to improve the students experience and in particular see how we can help students who are graduating this year to find a career.