The House of Commons Petitions Committee has published a report calling on the Government to take urgent action and review the support for universities and students as they are impacted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
The report discusses a variety of issues impacting students and universities as they see the “greatest challenge they have faced for generations”.
The publishing of the report comes following an inquiry where hundreds of thousands of students raised concerns that they felt they had not received a reasonable standard of education due to the impacts of strikes and the Coronavirus pandemic.
More than 348,000 people have signed an e-petition calling for the Government to ‘Reimburse all students of this year’s fees due to strikes and COVID-19‘, while thousands more have engaged with the Petitions Committee through social media and surveys. During the investigation, the Committee also heard evidence from students, universities and the Government’s Minister for Universities.
The Petitions Committee is made up of 11 backbench Members of Parliament from Government and Opposition parties. Speaking about the publishing of the report, the current chair of the Committee, Catherine McKinnell said;
“As the Government take steps to protect the economy from COVID-19, it is vital that they now take urgent action to ensure students, and our vitally important institutions, are not left behind as the virus continues to wreak havoc on our higher education system.
“We are calling on the Government to give clarity on students’ rights to a refund for their education. We also believe the Government should consider funding universities to support them in reimbursing student’s fees where it is clear their experience and service has fallen short due to the incredibly challenging situation we have been facing.
“Despite the hard work of lecturers and support staff, some universities have been unable to provide courses in a way that students feel is good value for money. Therefore, while we do not consider that a blanket refund for all students is necessarily required, we believe that the Government has a role in ensuring any student whose university experience has fallen short is compensated.
“The Coronavirus pandemic and its effect on UK universities represents the greatest challenge they have faced for generations. If the Government fails to offer a comprehensive and accessible support package for both universities and students, then we face letting down an entire generation, and critically damaging a sector that will play a crucial role in our country’s post-Covid economic recovery.”
The report recommends the Government takes a number of urgent actions after research by the Petitions Committee found that just 7% of students surveyed felt satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of their education over recent months.
The report has now been submitted for consideration and the Petitions Committee expect to hear a response from the Government within 2 months.
You can read the report and find out more about the investigation’s findings on the UK Parliament website.