Let me take you back to March 23rd, 2020 – “The Coronavirus virus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades and this country is not alone. All over the world we’re seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer.” – This was the opening to the UK prime minister, Boris Johnsons’ speech, on this date, putting the UK into lockdown.
But now, come back to today; October 2020. Over six months later, are we free of this virus? No. We are all still restricted in many ways. Although today is not as bad as March, we still suffer amid this pandemic and one cohort who are really feeling the consequences of this virus, are university students.
University courses across the UK have kicked back into action recently, giving students a sense of direction again after a long lockdown. However, there are terms and conditions. Despite still paying the same tuition fee, countless students will not be returning to campus any time soon. For the safety of their students and staff, many universities are embracing online learning. Although attending your lecture from your bedroom, perhaps still in your pyjamas, seems inviting, what is not so attractive is a lack of support.
Face to face support is vital for many students to stay motivated and excel. But it does not stop there, students are also lacking important resources, and after all – this is what their tuition fee is used to pay for! Some students may not have access to a computer to attend their zoom calls, while others may now not be able to use equipment to complete their coursework to a high standard they once could.
University courses cost a whopping £9,250 per year in the UK. This equates to £27,750 for the most common three years of study. So why, when students are not going to be getting the same experience this year as they did in previous years should this fee stay the same?
When they enrolled on their courses, students had resources made available to them and were given guaranteed contact hours from lecturers. Many universities also offer extra support if students seek it as well as access to their libraries 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But now, universities cannot offer these attributes. They are restricted in many ways and learning is simply not the same. Many universities have had to close off rooms with computers and studio spaces due to the equipment being too high maintenance in needing to be sterilised after every usage.
In equipment being freely accessible brings risk so it is understandable why certain resources cannot be used. But this is another lack of vital resources students need, so how is it fair that they should pay the same tuition fee when they cannot use the same apparatus as in previous years?
The psychology behind going to a place of learning is very important. For a lot of students, when they physically go to university and sit in a seminar room, they feel more inspired and are therefore more motivated to learn, so will flourish. They have not associated their home as being a place where they are taught by their university lecturers, nor should they.
Their home should be a place of relaxation and therefore detached from their place of learning. Although it is important for their safety that they try to stay at home as much as possible, surely there should be some kind of compensation for not receiving the same learning experience they would have before this pandemic.
I asked on social media platforms Instagram and Twitter: “Do you think university students should get a discounted tuition fee?” On both platforms, 95% of people answered yes, with only 5% thinking no.
This shows how passionate students are about this topic. Being a student can be stressful at times – no matter what age you are. But, when things are being restricted and you feel you cannot do as much as you could before, many students feel there should be a discounted tuition fee.
While it is important we all stay safe during this pandemic, at what cost?
If you have any views on this topic, please get in touch with us at UNIfied!