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Half a million sign petition to reduce tuition fees

By Dom Maltby Feb 3, 2021
Free education protest, London, November 2017. Natasha Quarmby/Shutterstock.

More than 574,000 people have signed a petition calling for a reduction in university tuition fees from £9,250 to £3,000.

Once a petition has more then 100,000 signatures it should trigger a debate in parliament.

The government responded on January 26 saying they were not considering a reduction in maximum fee levels to £3,000. This comes despite many students feeling that the government has not represented their interests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students across the country are paying £9,250 for online learning and are missing out on access to campus facilities that help them complete work to a high standard.

The Government said: “Tuition fee levels must represent value for money and ensure that universities are properly funded. Government is not considering a reduction in maximum fee levels to £3,000.

“In deciding to keep charging full fees, providers will want to ensure that they can continue to deliver courses which are fit for purpose and help students progress their qualifications.

“The Office for Students has made it clear that Higher Education providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and academic standards.

“These set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected, regardless of whether a provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, online learning, or a combination of both.”

Many courses require access to certain spaces or equipment at their universities.

Kingston School of Art students haven’t been on campus since the start of January feel the government fails to realise the impact of this.

Instagram post created by Ella to express her frustration with the government and tuition fees.
Ella Price took to social media to help student voices be heard. 

Ella Price, a Kingston School of Art student said: “Every other section of society is being compensated whilst normal life is on hold, so it is beyond galling to be one of the thousands of students who are being totally ignored.

“Even the recent petition, which has over half a million signatures, was unceremoniously fobbed off.

“We aren’t just a bunch of kids. We are destined to be tomorrow’s leading lights and as such we should be shown the respect we deserve.”

The government debated two petitions on 16 November 2020. The first from June 5, signed by 353,129 people, called for the tuition fees to be reimbursed after strikes and the move to online learning.

The other, signed by 270,659 people, called for a partial refund of tuition fees due to COVID-19.

The Government said, “If students are unhappy, they should first complain to their provider and if their concerns are unresolved, they can ask OIA to consider their complaint.”

Ella Price believes this places an unfair burden on universitites: “Our tutors are having to climb a mountain in their attempt to deliver a functioning service to us, but it has become clear that providing online education for a practical subject is logistically impossible.

“My frustration and anger are not directed at the tutors or Kingston University itself but instead at the government.” 

Some universities cancelled all face to face teaching forthe 2020-21 academic year.

Josephine Robertson, a digital media student at Anglia Ruskin, has been working online since September.

“My course requires access to specific software that the majority of computers would struggle to run, I’m lucky enough to be able to afford my MacBook but some people on my course can’t run software at the same time as Microsoft Teams,” said Robertson.

The Government said: “We recognise that in these exceptional circumstances some students may be facing considerable financial hardship, and we encourage universities and private landlords to review their accommodation policies to ensure they are fair, clear and have students’ interests at heart.”

This article was ammended on February 18 to correct a mis-leading headline suggesting the petition had already been rejected. It remains open and awaiting debate.

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