University told to pay £5k compensation to student due to Covid pandemic - here’s why

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 1:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 1:06 pm
A University in England has been ordered to pay £5,000 in compensation to a student due to lost teaching time during the country’s first coronavirus lockdown (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A University in England has been ordered to pay £5,000 in compensation to a student due to lost teaching time during the country’s first coronavirus lockdown.

Complaints watchdog, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), said it received 2,604 complaints in 2020, with 500 of these relating to the impact of the Covid pandemic.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

‘Severe disappointment and inconvenience’

Among the complaints from students included concerns regarding accommodation, disruption to learning due to the Covid pandemic, and that providers were unable to deliver important practical experience as part of a course.

One of the complainants included an international medical student studying at an undisclosed university paying £38,000 in course fees.

The student was awarded £5,000 after the university stopped all clinical placements due to Covid, which meant the individual lost out on practical experience.

The OIA said the money was given to the student due to the "severe disappointment and inconvenience" they had experienced during their final year of study, which had been "less valuable" than expected.

The OIA also said a healthcare student has been awarded £1,500 due to the “inconvenience and significant disappointment” they faced after a lab-based research project which was part of their master’s course was cancelled.

The student had been instead moved to remote learning by the university following the Covid-19 outbreak.

However, they argued that this meant missing out on the practical techniques employers require, which would then disadvantage them when applying for jobs.

The OIA said that although the provider had taken a “number of steps” to ensure that students were not at an academic disadvantage, it could not deliver on the promised lab work.

Felicity Mitchell, independent adjudicator, said that the case summaries “reflect the hugely challenging and complex situations that students and providers have faced as a result of the pandemic.

“Where possible we try to reach a settlement and we are pleased that in many cases providers and students have been very open to this.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We have been clear that the quality and quantity of tuition should not drop, and should be accessible to all students, regardless of their background. The Office for Students is monitoring online teaching to ensure this is the case.”