Tuition Fees – will the Government refund tuition fees if teaching’s now mostly online?

With an expected second wave of Coronavirus on the horizon, or as speculated, already here; many students starting University have found themselves in an unusual position. Anyone who has attended University has no doubt regaled plenty of stories of Freshers week, but with the pandemic restrictions in place, freshers at university will have a different experience.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, many university students will now have most or all of their course online. With fees in England of £9000 a year, it is understandable that students and their parents alike are questioning the charges for online tuition. Many are asking can they get a refund? The short answer, no.

Much of the university experience is gained from being there, face-to-face, talking to lecturers, teachers and other students, as well as the skills you learn there. For example, being engaged in clubs, societies and student unions, let alone the life skills you gain being away from your parents likely for the first time. Considering this is understandable many feel they aren’t getting their money’s worth online.

However, governments across the UK have all said that as long as the online courses offer quality learning and are fit for purpose, that you will not be reimbursed due to being taught online. According to Martin Lewis’ Money Expert, it is likely this has been done for a few reasons.

Like many businesses, universities are struggling financially and under stress, with many already struggling for funding. If students were to pay less tuition fees, the government would make up the gap anyway. Originally the entire loan system was brought in to support the universities and the newer £9000 fees because there was a shift of financial burden from the state to the individual, who if earning enough would pay later.

Ultimately, a reduction in fees won’t reduce what most students repay anyway. The way the loans work means many won’t end up repaying the full amount altogether as they are only expected to pay back a portion each month dependent on earnings, and after 30 years any remaining debt is wiped.

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