News writer Josh Herman discusses Universities Minister Michelle Donelan encouraging students to ask for course refunds.

Written by Joshua Herman

The Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has encouraged students to ask for a refund if they are unsatisfied with their courses’ quality.

In an interview conducted by The Daily Telegraph, she stated ‘They are consumers, at the end of the day. They’re paying a substantial amount of money that’s an investment in their own lives. They deserve that appeal right.’

Donelan highlights the rise in tuition fee refund requests made to the Office of Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education: ‘We saw refunds in the tens of thousands during the pandemic,’ demonstrating the increasing dissatisfaction with teaching, alongside limitations enforced by safety restrictions in conjunction with the unchanged tuition fee. Course contact hours, study spaces, and library spaces –  traditional hallmarks of the university experience – were unable to be catered for by universities, causing university students to feel that the typically accepted tuition fee price was disproportionate to the quality of the education being provided during the pandemic. 

Results from an informal poll posted on the student Facebook page, ‘Fab N Fresh’, further illustrated the dissatisfaction towards teaching quality in relation to the tuition fee. From a total sample of 470, 321 voted that they were ‘dissatisfied with their course and would appeal for a refund,’ while ‘I am satisfied with my course’ received 128 votes. Only 21 students claimed they were ‘dissatisfied with their course and wouldn’t appeal for a refund.’

The results of the poll show that of the 470 students, the vast majority of them wished to have their tuition fee refunded, although some students felt that with restrictions being lifted, the quality of teaching resumed. One student told Redbrick, ‘I’m mostly satisfied with my course now, but wasn’t this time last year when everything was online,’ suggesting that the recent return to in-person teaching provides more justification for the tuition fee for some students.

The results of the poll show that of the 470 students, the vast majority of them wished to have their tuition fee refunded

Other students who are dissatisfied with the quality of their course have further commented to say that despite this, they would not seek a refund.  ‘I probably would want a refund – but my lecturers worked so hard to keep things as normal as possible and I could never thank them enough, so I’d never appeal for one, worried it’d reflect badly on them.’

Though Michelle Donelan encourages students to appeal for a refund, the process of this application does not guarantee one. In the FAQ section from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator website, which was last updated in January 2022, the section under refunds quotes: If your provider has offered you different but broadly equivalent teaching and assessment opportunities and these are accessible to you, it is not likely that you will get a fee refund or reduction for that,’ making the process difficult for students to be granted a refund on their tuition fees.

Read more News articles here:

A Guide to Guild Democracy

Students and MP: Boris Johnson Looks ‘Like a Snivelling Liar’

UoB Fails To Implement Suicide Guidance