Over the last year the impact of COVID-19 has devastated the world in ways that have been unimaginable. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the student experience, presenting many new and difficult challenges on top of existing pressures already faced by students.
These challenges include adapting to online learning, paying for accommodation they can’t or don’t need to use, and the stress of ever-changing national restrictions. We understand how frustrating this is for you.
We are continuing to work closely with the University Senior Management team to help ensure that we can help deliver the best possible University experience throughout the pandemic.
We believe that the University successfully managed to deliver blended learning throughout semester one and we would like to thank all academic and professional services staff for their hard work to ensure this was made possible. This has not been the case across many Universities up and down the country.
Whilst many students understand the situation at hand, we know that some are disappointed that the past 10 months have not been as expected. The Students’ Union and the University having been working hard to keep up with the rapidly changing national situation.
We feel the Government has been unclear and indecisive, leaving students and university staff with little guidance.
It is estimated that the Government has spent approximately £210bn on the pandemic, including £112bn supporting UK businesses. To date, the Government has spent NO MONEY to support universities with learning and teaching costs or accommodation fees.
We believe that the Government should:
- Reimburse students for halls of residence or private accommodation they can’t use in the academic year 20/21.
- Increase funding for universities to meet the costs of increased and high-quality online learning and teaching costs, COVID secure face-to-face learning and teaching, and additional student mental health and wellbeing spending.
- Pay the additional costs the University had to spend making campuses, building and accommodations COVID secure.
- Support the University with additional funding to enable Universities to reduce tuition fees for academic year 20/21
We now ask that you direct your efforts by joining us in lobbying the Government for change. We encourage students to sign this national petition calling the Government to reduce university tuition fees in academic year 20/21. We will be working with other SUs in our region and with NUS to build a campaign to force the Government to fund Higher Education and give you the support you deserve.
This situation is ever-changing and has already spanned two academic years, causing students much concern. Should the situation continue to deteriorate, we would expect the Government to make further commitments to support students and we will continue to fight for your rights.
Notwithstanding the Government’s role, we recognise the University’s responsibility in supporting students and we ask for the following:
- Increase the amount and scope of the student hardship fund and promote it effectively to students.
- Increase wellbeing and mental health support available to students.
- Consider extending the term to ensure all performances and practical assessments can be completed in a timely manner.
- Maintain an excellent standard of online teaching.
- Support students/the SU in demanding the Government provide financial support for universities and students.
- To consider rent reductions/rebates in relation to University managed hall of residence.
- To put appropriate measures in place to ensure that no student is academically disadvantaged due to circumstances beyond their control.
The pandemic and lack of financial support from the Government for Universities (and Student Unions) is placing many under significant financial pressure and may bring into question future survival of some institutions. We believe the responsibility to finance rent rebates and tuition fee refunds sits with the Government. For this reason, we are not calling for a rent strike.
Updates on this statement and other matters will be shared over the following days/weeks via our social media channels:
- Instagram: @yourucsu
- Twitter: @yourucsu
- Facebook: /yourucsu
Together we will get through this and we thank you in advance for your support in lobbying the Government for change.
Yours in solidarity,
Moyin & Jamel
UCSU President & Vice President.