Students in England demand 30% Covid reduction on tuition fees | The universities


University students in England are offering to accept higher interest rates on their loans in exchange for an immediate reduction of £ 2,700 on their tuition fees in compensation for the disruption to their studies caused by the Covid pandemic.

A group of student unions led by the London School of Economics and the University of Sheffield have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Universities Secretary Michelle Donelan proposing that the government fund a 30 % of tuition fees for all students. this year by raising interest rates from 3% to 6.2%, meaning it would only be paid off by the highest paying graduates.

The letter said: “We demand immediate financial justice for the cohorts of college students affected by Covid. In an ideal world, education should be free; however, in the year students claim compensation for their tuition fees, we have created a financially neutral solution to adjust tuition fees, helping students with a one-time payment.

The student leaders, all from Russell Group research universities, based their calculations on modeling from consultancy London Economics. He suggested that raising the interest rate on student loans would mean the £ 1 billion cost of the 30% rebate would be paid by high-income graduates, as loans are written off after 30 years, rather than by the taxpayer or low-income graduates. .

The average male graduate would pay £ 6,500 more in loan repayments over his lifetime, with higher earners paying up to £ 29,800 more, but female graduates with an average salary could repay the same amount because their lifetime incomes are lower.

The pandemic prevented most students from accessing their campuses from the end of the fall term until May 17, so they missed in-person instruction, access to facilities such as libraries and social and extracurricular activities. Many were frustrated at not being able to access rooms in halls of residence and apartments for which they had already paid.

“The universities got it wrong in the summer of 2020. They were overzealous in recruiting students, which contributed to unrealistic expectations of what this academic year would look like. This has led to a situation where students are extremely angry that they are being charged exorbitant prices for their studies, ”said David Gordon, general secretary of the LSE students’ union.

Some students have expressed their anger at universities this year through rent strikes, building occupations and social distancing protests. Gordon said the reimbursement modeling was an attempt to find a constructive way to talk to the government about compensation after exhausting other avenues, including the Competition and Markets Authority, the Office of the Independent Arbitrator. , which deals with student complaints, and the Students’ Office, the higher education regulator for England.

The letter was signed by 17 student unions from LSE, UCL, King’s College and Queen Mary in London, Queen’s University in Belfast and the universities of Exeter, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, York, Glasgow, Durham, Manchester, Cardiff , Sheffield and Bristol. Students from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland signed the letter in solidarity with unions in England.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said: “Universities have a strong track record of delivering excellent blended courses, and we made it clear from the onset of the pandemic that the quality and quantity should not decline.

“The Office for Students will be monitoring to make sure this is the case, and universities should be open about what students can expect.”

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