Durham SU President Kate McIntosh and Postgraduate Academic Officer David Evans have aligned with a national campaign to oppose the university receiving full tuition fee payments for a year that has been disrupted by both Covid-19 and lecture strikes.
Members of Assembly met for their first online council to discuss the Student Union’s response to the COVID-19 crisis last week, and the Officers were questioned on the University requiring full fees for this year.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has argued that courses heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic should be reimbursed for the year or allowed to retake at no further cost.
NUS President Zamzam Ibrahim has stated that students are “treated as consumers but left out in the cold when the product cannot be delivered as described.”
Durham SU Postgraduate Academic Officer David Evans stated “I don’t understand why the university is continuing to charge full fees, other than that they are allowed to.
“I recommend people make notes of every opportunity that they have missed, keep notes of what you have lost as a result of your disruption this year. Use our advice centre, so that we can help you address this either as an individual or as a cohort.
“Keep note of the things you were sold this education on, and a complaint is a route to challenge the idea that people should be paying full fees.”
Durham SU President Kate McIntosh stated her support for the national NUS campaign. “The University wants to ensure their financial stability in the coming years, and that has meant they’re not currently considering refunds.
“We need to be part of the national campaigns for this, but it isn’t one of our top concerns right now, because it’s a long-term, national issue”, McIntosh told Assembly last week.
Evans sympathised with a postgraduate student who objected to “an easy pass equating to the same standard of education”. However, Evans urged students to not boycott paying their fees, believing that paying tuition fees now wouldn’t weaken a position about reclaiming them.
Universities UK has been clear that students should not expect a fee refund, but Durham SU has directed students to the SU online advice service if they are considering making a personal claim against the University.
Image: Durham Student’s Union via Durham University