Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 22nd October 2020.

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Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Conservative, Chesham and Amersham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what compensation is available to university students who have their online tuition cancelled.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

This is a difficult and uncertain time for students, but we are working with the higher education (HE) sector to make sure that all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies. We have seen some fantastic and innovative examples of high-quality online learning being delivered across the sector and are aware of a number of universities that have increased their online teaching in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. This is in line with government guidance, which sets out 4 tiers of restrictions for education settings, and SAGE advice.

However, the majority of universities are now open for the autumn term, using a blended learning approach which combines online teaching and in-person tuition in ways that they consider appropriate to minimise risk.

Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of tuition fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the HE provider and student.

If students have concerns, they should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at HE providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees within the fee caps set by the government. In deciding to keep charging full fees, universities will of course want to ensure that they can continue to deliver courses that are fit for purpose and that help students progress their qualifications.

The government has been clear that it expects universities to continue delivering a high-quality academic experience and help students to achieve qualifications that they and employers value.

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