University students have been asked to sign up for a “mass action” for compensation because of the coronavirus pandemic.
By forming a “complaint chain” from thousands of students, the NUS believe they can use “their experience” to demand these requests from the government.
20% of students have been unable to access any learning while 33% have said that the learning has been poor quality, according to NUS research.
Their research also revealed 21% of disabled students couldn’t access reasonable adjustments to their course remotely.
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan believed unsatisfied students should complain to universities directly rather than the government, according to the BBC.
The Department for Education stated the “autonomous” nature of universities meant refunds were dependent on the specific “contractual arrangements” between a student and academic provider.
The NUS have said that the significant financial challenges faced by academic institutions means government support is required. NUS National President Zamzam Ibrahim said: “The UK government are desperate to reduce this to a series of individual problems.
The UK government are desperate to reduce this to a series of individual problems. It’s a total betrayal of trust to the thousands of students who are now facing lifelong debts for a once-in-a-lifetime education they haven’t received
– Zamzam Ibrahim
“It’s a total betrayal of trust to the thousands of students who are now facing lifelong debts for a once-in-a-lifetime education they haven’t received.”
Ms Ibrahim also argued that the absence of any compensation hasn’t left students as “empowered consumers” as claimed by the government.
Claire Sosienski Smith, NUS vice-president (higher education), explained that the NUS were fighting for students to “win fair compensation, either through a redo, write-off or reimbursement”.
“The scale of this disruption has been so vast that we need a national sector-wide response from government for this, including funding from Westminster,” she argued.
Ms Sosienski Smith also highlighted the financial difficulties of universities individually compensating students if extra government funding isn’t provided.
A spokesperson for Universities UK (UUK), which represents UK universities, stated: “For most students modules and assessment have been or will be completed for 2019/20 so that they can achieve the learning outcomes for their course of study.”
The organisation also stated that, during the coronavirus pandemic, “the health and safety of staff and students had to be paramount”.