Last updated 9 March 2021
On 24?February, the SU Presidents and five other students from Falmouth and Exeter had an exclusive meeting with Michelle Donelan, Minister of State for Universities, where they challenged her on several issues including tuition fee refunds. Her answers were generic, but she did take away the possibility of more support for summer opening. Click here for meeting notes.
Falmouth have also released their Finance Booklet in accordance with our Ease the Fees demands (which can be found here). It is a breakdown of how student fees have been spent with a particular emphasis on Covid.
Q&A with Falmouth
Amelia asked Falmouth University if they would do a live Q&A session and they agreed. Peter Cox (Chief Operating Officer), Eunice Ma (Provost), Robin Kirby (Strategic Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor), and Russell Crawford (Head of Learning & Teaching) will be taking part in a Q&A for any student to attend and ask the questions. The Q&A will take place on Teams from 11.30-12.30 on 17 March. Click here to attend.
25 February 2021
We will be returning to campus on 8 March!
However, the fight for justice is not over. Yesterday, Amelia and Lizzy spoke to NUS Presidents Larissa and Hilary to express the needs and worries of Small and Specialist University Students.
They presented these particular worries:
- Arts Unis can’t mitigate as easily and do not have the same funds as Exeter (Russell Groups). They have to make financial decisions like not refund rent to keep facilities open over summer. However, it’s still unfair on our students that our University has to make these decisions.
- Smaller Universities do not have the funds to give students tuition fee refunds, even when they deserve at least 25% back.
- The Government are not addressing smaller universities at all. They’ve made no effort to help our students, considering they are the most impacted.
- Arts Uni students have no facilities and they literally cannot do their degree without them.
- Students can’t spend thousands of pounds buying this equipment.
- Our students now have a skills gap after missing out on facilities usage. This means they may have to spend more money on a Masters to ensure they have the skills.
- Graduate prospects and employability skills are impacted by the lack of a quality portfolio.
- Digital hardship doesn’t just mean without a laptop, but without thousands of pounds worth of a laptop that is powerful to run gaming, architecture, and other software. It also doesn’t cover the industry kit that our students have been left without.
- Our first-year communities barely even know their course mates. They have spent a year learning nothing and will return to university as if they just started.
The NUS presidents were lovely and wanted to create a united response, which is a win for us! They loved #EaseTheFees Instagram page and wanted to continue the lived experiences movement on this.
- We need students to send us 30 seconds or less videos of them stressing how being without the facilities has affected them.
- We need students to keep using the Instagram account.
We are now in regular conversations with the NUS presidents and the Smaller Universities Presidents. Arts Uni students deserve their feedback.
24 February 2021
Amazing news! As a result of all the letters, campaigning, and ongoing conversations by our Universities with representative bodies and DFE, the Presidents have been offered the chance to speak to Michelle Donelan with a panel of students (invited by the Presidents). This meeting will take place Wednesday 24 February at 6pm, so stay tuned for updates.
Click here to download the panel's questions.
16 February 2021
After the disappointing result from the Minister, other Students' Unions adopted our #EaseTheFees campaign, and we are looking at join the Pause Or Pay campaign. Together they make a stronger argument with both lived experiences and the facts.
However, very positively, Guild HE threw us a lifeline by acknowledging the letter Lizzy and her President network sent them. Guild organised a meeting with the CEO and COO for all the Presidents that signed the letter. Justice for practical courses being let down by the Government was the primary topic of conversation and the Guild were supportive of the frustrations, reassuring attendees that they were doing everything they could to push the matter. The Guild had some fab news, which due to ‘confidentiality’ Lizzy cannot repeat, but alludes to the hopeful gradual return of our students to campus soon.
8 February 2021
To show students her disgust at the lack of government acknowledgment for small and specialist universities with creative and practical courses, Lizzy published a video on Facebook explaining her stance and met with her network of SU presidents to work on a response to this.
Lizzy made clear her next steps were:
- working with Falmouth to keep the conversation with the Minster Student Lead
- working with Falmouth on the Hardship Fund
- meeting with her network of small and specialist SU Presidents to work on a response to the letter
- kickstarting the national conversation of #EaseTheFees (and try to lobby NUS to do the same), but we will need your involvement (more on this to come).
29 January 2021
Lizzy has received a response from the Guild HE CEO disclosing the support and actions he wishes to include students' unions in. He also invited Lizzy and Education Officer Isabelle, alongside the other SUs who signed the letter, to attend a session with him on Tuesday 16 February to discuss the approach in lobbying the government further to open the facilities.
25 January 2021
Whilst Lizzy was working on the letter to the Provost, Eva Jiggings, student representative for Fashion Photography, took it upon herself to reach out to her local MP, Cherilyn Mackroy, to ask for support in helping the students suffering at the hands of the pandemic. Cherilyn responded by writing to Michelle Donelan MP (Head of State) and Falmouth University to open the facilities, or consider a safe approach to doing so, which was a massive win for students, Eva, and her Reps.
Lizzy is also working to the address the national debate regarding opening facilities after lockdown. Lizzy reached out to the other Students' Unions of the Guild HE (who represent small and specialist intuitions) to co-sign a letter to the Guild HE, asking if the Guild could show more support for their student members, and if they could lobby the government too.
Furthermore, Falmouth University suggested that the President team write to Michelle Donelan, supporting confidence within Falmouth to safely bring their students back to campus so that they can access facilities.
22 January 2021
Falmouth University released an F Word email detailing their plan to extend the term by two weeks and to extend the opening of the facilities over the summer until June 2021.
15 January 2021
SU President Falmouth, Lizzy Marshall, has worked with the Falmouth Education Officer and 42 additional student representatives to lobby the University to address students' inability to access facilities at this time. Click here to read their letter to the Provost which features a proposal to improve communications, re-assess timetables, and keep facilities open throughout the summer.
Lizzy is pleased to announce that this was well received by the University.
This page will be updated as the campaign develops.