International students in the UK have signed a petition urging the government to introduce tuition fee compensation in view of the national Covid-19 restrictions that have led to a huge impact on student experience and quality of education.
The campaigners who are also Russell Group universities’ international student representatives, said that it is vital for the government of the UK to offer at least partial compensation during times when many universities have not been able to provide a refund or adequate teaching.
They added that the government “abruptly” changed UK government guidelines and hence, it should now step in to assist international students.
Leeds University Union’s International student executive officer and one of the students leading the campaign, Jian Feng, said that the university discussions have helped them find that the universities cannot do this on their own and require more funding from the government.
Feng further mentioned that they are aware of the support that the government provided by giving millions for the university emergency hardship fund. However, it is very difficult for students to apply for these as it is only for those who are really in an emergency or do not have any money to spend.
If the campaign reaches a threshold of 10,000 signatures within days then the government is likely to respond to the issues mentioned in the petition.
In addition, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for higher education has also released another set of complaint case summaries caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Apart from issues around accommodation rent, the report also highlighted cases of institutions failing to deliver significant practical experience.
One of the cases, justified by the OIA, was of a final-year international student studying medicine who did not get the opportunity to participate in clinical placements between passing exams in February and graduating in July.
The OIA said that cancelling the placements was unavoidable but the education provider did not consider the impact of missing out on clinical placements on the student.
It added that the institution could not justify why students paid higher fees for their final year along with visa costs and living expenses when clinical placements were paid for by Health Education England. The student, in this case, paid £38,000.
The body decided that this has resulted in the inability to meet the student’s expectation, for which it recommended the provided to pay £5,000 as compensation for “severe disappointment” experienced by the student in the final year.
However, Feng said that students enrolled in courses in the fields of social sciences or humanities are unlikely to get such compensation.
Feng believes that the government is staying away from this responsibility and not providing money for support. Referring to the same, he said that if it does not give the providers money then how they will support international students.
A lot of overseas students feel that they are studying everything online and are not getting to experience the cultural differences, the campus, make new friends or speak a second language in a foreign country. They should not have to pay the same amount for studying online, Feng explained.