Official statement from your SU Presidents
Following feedback from many students who are dissatisfied with their higher education provision this year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have decided to launch an #EaseTheFees campaign.
We wholly support undergraduate and postgraduate students who feel that their education in the academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21 is not worth the tuition fees they are being expected to pay (whether upfront or through future taxation). This is due to: a lack of face-to-face teaching; a reduction in contact hours; a lack of access to facilities and physical resources needed for learning/research; the cancellation of field trips; a reduction in data-gathering opportunities; the cancellation of events associated with learning/research, such as graduations, exhibitions, and end-of year shows; a reduction in employability opportunities usually associated with the course. This is not an exhaustive list of the impacts on education provision that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused.
Our belief that students have not been provided adequate educational offerings to justify their tuition fees this year is not a reflection of the hard work of academic and professional services staff at both Falmouth University and the University of Exeter. We know that significant efforts and investments have gone into providing an excellent educational offering for students despite the pandemic and thank staff for this. Nonetheless, it has been impossible to provide an education worth its price this year, for reasons outside of the universities’ control.
Furthermore, at The Students’ Union, we recognise that it is not possible for the universities to refund students' tuition fees directly, without creating detrimental financial instability for the institutions. Therefore, our campaign is primarily concerned with joining forces with other Students’ Unions nationally, to target the Government, under whom sit Student Finance providers for UK students. The Government have the ability to wipe a portion of affected students’ debts, to account for insufficient education provision this year, and to provide more support for universities where students have paid their fees upfront and therefore need immediate cash refunds.
As such, these are our initial action points to kick off our #EaseTheFees campaign:
- Encourage students to use the hashtag #EaseTheFees on social media to express their dissatisfaction with higher education provision this year*.
- Seek transparency from both Falmouth University and the University of Exeter on how they spend tuition fees for undergraduate, postgraduate taught and international students, and why they are unable to offer direct refunds themselves.
- Organise a Townhall event with our local MPs where students can express their dissatisfaction with government support for higher education provision this year – and can demand national policies regarding partial tuition fee refunds, rent rebates, and no detriment policies.
- Push NUS (National Union of Students) to coordinate a national campaign for partial tuition fee refunds.
- If NUS refuse, form alliances with other SUs across the UK to create national approaches to lobbying the Government for partial tuition fee refunds.
- Seek more immediate compensation for students whose field trips have been cancelled, where these field trips were advertised as a key part of their course.
*Home undergraduate students may also use the hashtag #9kforwhat on social media to express their dissatisfaction with higher education provision this year. There are other SUs across the UK utilising this hashtag, but we decided not to use this as the title for our campaign as we wanted to be inclusive of postgraduate and international students whose fees are more expensive.
All the best,
Cara Chittenden (SU President Exeter)
Lizzy Marshall (SU President Falmouth)
Charlotte Agnew (SU President Welfare & Inclusivity)
Amelia Banton (SU President Experience)