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Record Complaints and Compensation for University Students

  • May 04, 2022
Record Complaints and Compensation for University Students
 

Last year reports of record numbers of students complained about their university courses in England and Wales - more than a third were as a direct result of the pandemic.

The total number of complaints received by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) reached 2,763.

The 2021 total number of complaints succeeded the previous year by 6%!

Though, a sizable portion of these complaints were backlogged from 2020. 

Other reasons for this astonishing number included staffing issues as well as industrial action. Some students claimed that Covid-19 meant that they were not getting the education that they would have expected from the university experience.

The issue with the staffing complaints laid more in poorly prepared substitute teachers - something that should remain completely in secondary education and is unacceptable at a higher level - and key lecturers/experts leaving the university during this time.

The most common complaint rested in how courses were being delivered. Students would not typically wish to pay out thousands for online classes unless they specifically sought out a class like this.

Some issues with online classes include the inability to access important facilities such as science students needing to use labs and the technical difficulties that came with the dependency of online learning… People had no option if their WiFi cut out or certain programmes were not working for them.

A report stated that "Some students struggled with digital literacy, especially in online timed exams For others their limited typing skills affected their performance."

Another reason for complaints was the impossibility of a year studying abroad since traveling was extremely restricted.

As a result of all of the complaints, the total sum given out in compensation amounted to over £1.3m, with the highest claim being £68,000.

One possible reason that the compensation was also higher this year was because the complaints were not as easily rectified with the pandemic going on so the OIA just had to settle the complaint rather than improve the person’s situation.

 

Those who felt the most swindled by the effects of the pandemic were PhD and postgraduate students, amounting for just under half of the complaints despite making up only around a quarter of students.

 

Conversely, OIA wants to stress that these complaints still make up only a small percentage of students’ views and that the majority still are believed to have gotten amazing education.

 

Students with disabilities felt as though the move to remote education meant that they were better equipped to get the most out of their learning experience - they had more control over how and when they could receive their education.