Durham SU joins other universities in demand for accessible Covid-19 compensation

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Durham Student Union has co-signed a letter with 19 other universities calling on the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to streamline the processes students use to request refunds.

The letter, addressed to Dr. Andrea Coscelli at the CMA, called for the body to “take action to uphold students’ rights during this pandemic.” Other signees include the Student’s Unions at Oxford, Cambridge, and Manchester, as well as the President of the National Union of Students.


“This year, students have been paying full tuition, despite most having lost key parts of their educational experience and many having been sold a promise of “blended learning” that has not been delivered.”

-Letter to the CMA

The letter is critical of the current efforts being taken to ease financial stress for students, noting that “we are not aware of any systemic rebates or refunds for students outside of the university-run “accommodation sector.”

“This year, students have been paying full tuition, despite most having lost key parts of their educational experience and many having been sold a promise of “blended learning” that has not been delivered.

“Hundreds of thousands of students have been left with no viable route to redress on any meaningful scale, and as far as we can make out the CMA has completely ignored the issue – despite multiple petitions to the government which have gained hundreds of thousands of signatures.”

“The pandemic has exposed contradictions of the higher education fee system for funding higher
education in the UK, with students being forced to pay astronomically high fees while having no
power to ask for refunds when they lose out.”

-LETTER TO THE CMA

“Ultimately, students are not comfortable with paying for their education as a product, and this pandemic has proven that students are seen as consumers only when it suits, so that universities can extract fees from them. If universities cannot afford to refund students when they are offering a quantifiably worse educational experience, then they should not be charging students in the first place.”

Additionally, the letter calls on the CMA to investigate claims of landlords refusing refunds to students that are unable to access private accommodation due to lockdown restrictions. The demand comes after Durham MP Mary Foy made similar calls on the government to help refund students for private accommodation costs earlier this year.

The full letter can be found here.

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