A university has been instructed to pay an international medical student £5,000 in compensation for lack of teaching time during the first lockdown.
The student had been studying at an unknown university, racking up fees of £38,000.
Clinical placements were stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic which meant students did not have the crucial practical experience.
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) said that the compensation was awarded due to the “severe disappointment and inconvenience” of the student and for their final year of study being “less valuable” than usual.
The OIA received 2,604 complaints in 2020, 500 of which were related to the impact of the pandemic.
The complaints included concerns over accommodation, disrupted learning and missed practical elements of courses.
We have been clear that the quality and quantity of tuition should not drop, and should be accessible to all students, regardless of their background
– Department for Education
The adjudicator said the cases displayed “complex situations” brought by coronavirus.
£1,500 was awarded to a healthcare student after their lab-based research project was cancelled as part of their master’s course. They argued that this left them disadvantaged in the job market.
A student was compensated £200 after missing 14 hours of earning due to industrial action in late 2019.
A Department for Education spokeswoman stated: “We have been clear that the quality and quantity of tuition should not drop, and should be accessible to all students, regardless of their background. The Office for Students is monitoring online teaching to ensure this is the case.”
The National Union of Students (NUS) has insisted on debt relief and refunds to those whose studies were disrupted.
The union is advocating for a more simplified complaints process, arguing that students have been “passed from pillar to post” and that some universities have dismissed their concerns.
Students must first raise their grievances with their institution and then have up to 12 months to issue a complaint.