UK universities could end up paying students back for services not provided during COVID

An independent body in the United Kingdom has recommended that colleges pay back students for services they did not receive but paid for during the coronavirus pandemic.

The recommendation comes as colleges across the U.S. have been sued for taking students' money for services they did not offer during the global pandemic.

Universities in the United Kingdom have been instructed to pay students thousands of dollars because they had ‘”less valuable” experiences due to the universities’ COVID-19 actions. 

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) is an independent body that reviews students’ complaints against higher education institutions. It does not have the power to regulate or punish the institutions, however.

OIA recently shared several complaints students have made about the impact coronavirus has had on their educational experiences.

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One complaint was lodged by an international medical student who had been studying at an undisclosed UK university with fees totaling nearly $45,000. 

Because the university terminated all clinical placements during the COVID-19 lockdowns, the student was said to have faced “severe disappointment and inconvenience.” 

The final year of the student’s studies had been “less valuable” than anticipated. 

To accommodate the student for this reportedly negative experience, the OIA ordered the unnamed university to pay the student nearly $7,000. 

Another student in the health field was recommended to be compensated nearly $2,100 after a lab-based research project was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The OIA claimed that the student faced “inconvenience and significant disappointment” because the student was forced to miss out on hands-on experience required for future employment.  

Although the university had “taken steps” to aid students during the lockdowns, it did not fulfill its obligation regarding lab work as determined by the OIA. 

OIA communications officer Jennifer Runde told Campus Reform that OIA “expect[s] providers to comply with our Recommendations promptly and in full when we decide a complaint is Justified or Partly Justified. We carefully monitor compliance and it’s very rare for a provider to not enact our Recommendations.”

[RELATED: Ivy League pockets millions from COVID stimulus as endowments reach record values]

Campus Reform reported on students in America suing their universities over COVID-era tuition and fees.

The University of Oregon is facing a $10 million class-action lawsuit for allegedly charging students for “services they are not being provided, events they cannot attend, and programs and activities that have been curtailed, discontinued, or closed.” 

Oregon State University is also facing a lawsuit alleging that the school did not lower the cost of tuition and instead “continu[ed] to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students”  after they were forced to receive online instruction only.

A student of the University of Texas-Austin is suing the college over its decision to continue to charge students for an in-person learning experience even though that was not provided during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Rice University was also slapped with a class-action lawsuit seeking $5 million in compensation for allegedly not providing students the “college experience they paid for.” 

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