Are students entitled to tuition fee refunds over COVID-19?

As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, many university students have found themselves being taught virtually. This has not only led to students asking if you have the right to a tuition fee refund, but your parents may be asking as well. 

Many young people feel as though they are missing out on the whole university experience. You gain so many new skills and connections through going to university. From meeting new people and expanding your soft skills to engaging in Student Unions and activity clubs, swapping classroom-based learning to virtual is immensely challenging.

Due to being taught virtually, you might feel as though you’re not receiving the service you paid for due to university being online as opposed to on campus. If you’re not happy about this then your first port of call should always be your university. In most cases, however, the Student Loan Company is paying your tuition fees and you will only start repaying this the following year if you are earning above the threshold. 

It’s worth taking into consideration that, according to Martin Lewis, 83% of students are not likely to repay what they have borrowed in full within 30 years, therefore reduced tuition fees are unlikely to make any repayment differences in most cases. 

Your Accommodation Rights

Last year, university accommodation was refunded to thousands of students. However, this wasn’t and isn’t an obligation. According to Citizens Advice, “generally you are liable for any rent due until the end of your fixed term (and any guarantor may be pursued if you don’t pay)”.

The best thing to do is to speak with your accommodation provider/landlord. After all, you’ll never know the answer unless you ask. If you don’t get anywhere, check your contract for details specifying how much notice you need to give and whether you’ll be held liable for additional charges. It is extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to cancel your accommodation contract with immediate effect but the landlord may consider an early break.

Ask For Help

Finding a part-time job is likely to prove much more challenging than previous years, or perhaps you would prefer to focus solely on your studies, whichever it is if you’re struggling financially then always ask for help. Find your university support services. They should be able to provide advice on who you can turn to should you need to. 

That goes for all of your struggles and worries. 2020 was a gruelling year for many and it has really taken a toll on people’s mental health. If you’re feeling low for a long period of time, reach out. Speak to a family member, friend or mental wellbeing officer at your university. It’s important not to bottle things up, ask for help and remember, things will improve. 

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