Students could get a pay-out for lost teaching time at university - how would it work?

University students who’ve had their teaching disrupted due to coronavirus could receive compensation, after the higher education watchdog instructed a university to pay-out.

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) told one university to pay £1000 to an international student who had lost out, according to a case summary published by the OIA.

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Students all over the country have had their university experience disrupted by the pandemic, with thousands signing petitions and protesting against their treatment.

While the OIA is currently only processing around 200 complaints, many more are expected once they have gone through each universities’ internal process.

Who can claim?

While every student has faced some general disruption due to the events of this year, it's likely that only those who have missed out on a lot of in-person teaching time, such as those on highly practical courses, will be able to claim successfully.

It might also be the case that some universities made different promises in terms of what could be delivered, which were not able to be met, and this could also provide reasonable grounds for a claim.

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Of the ten cases published online by the OIA, only three were successful whereas the OIA ruled that the others should not receive compensation, as their universities had done enough to facilitate their learning.

Complaints have to be made with universities before they are referred to the OIA, and students are advised to try and quantify the time they have lost, and look for what the university promised they would receive.

While the current process only allows students to make individual claims, the OIA looking to change their procedures to allow group claims.

“Profit over safety”

A group of students in South Yorkshire are calling for compensation from Sheffield Hallam University for 13 weeks of missed teaching caused by the pandemic, and industrial action last year.

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The second year students are calling for £3,879 compensation each, of the £9,250 per year cost of the course.

In Manchester, a group of students occupied a university building in protest at a lack of support throughout the pandemic, claiming the university has “put profit over safety”.

After meetings with representatives of the students and the Students’ Union, the University of Manchester has offered a 30 per cent reduction in their accommodation fees - equivalent to four weeks of rent.