Nearly 20,000 students are taking legal action against 18 universities over the education they received due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The students have joined various group claims through StudentGroupClaim.co.uk to demand compensation for what they believe was insufficient provision for their education.
Student Group Claim says that students ought to receive compensation as they “received substantially less valuable services than those for which they paid” due to the alterations to education provisions implemented by universities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that said compensation should be equivalent to “the difference between the market value of the services paid for and the market value of the services provided”.
The universities that are subject to legal action include Warwick, University College London (UCL), London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and Coventry University.
There will be a hearing at the High Court on 2 February 2023 to decide whether to issue a Group Litigation Order for the claim against UCL, which involves 2,500 current or former students. If this is successful, other student groups are likely to pursue similar orders for litigation against their universities.
Shimon Goldwater, solicitor to Student Group UK, stated: “When you pay for a service, if you did not receive what you paid for you deserve compensation. Universities promised students in-person tuition and access to facilities and other services in return for substantial fees. During strike action and the pandemic they failed to provide this but still expected to be paid in full. Students have often taken out substantial loans to pay for a package of education and experiences which they did not receive…”
The claimants will be represented by Anna Boase KC, Patricia Burns, and Matthew Hoyle of One Essex Court, with a litigation and insurance package of £13.5m secured by Student Group Claim.
The first recourse for students who are dissatisfied with the teaching they received is to complain directly to the University. Once the internal complaints procedure has been exhausted, students may then escalate the matter to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator which upheld 1/3 of complaints last year with many related to how courses were delivered.
The University of Warwick has been contacted for comment by the Boar. They directed us to the recent statement by Universities UK (UUK).
Universities UK said: “The Covid-19 pandemic threw two years of unprecedented challenge at the higher education sector and our students, and we are proud of how universities adapted and managed in adverse circumstances.
“During some periods of lockdown, universities were not permitted to offer teaching and learning as usual and instead universities adjusted quickly and creatively to ensure students could learn and graduate.
“We are not able to comment on individual institutions or cases. Universities continually look to improve, and raise standards if students are not getting the learning opportunities they deserve.”