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Universities in the Pandemic – tuition fees and public scrutiny

Students continue to be at the forefront of blame in regard to rising COVID-19 infections globally. The usual government rhetoric that blames students for being inevitably one of the large causes for superspreading, students across the world have shown a great disdain and contempt towards policies and measures put in place to protect their lives both academically and personally. 

QMUL is undoubtedly in this spotlight. Whilst efforts to protect students are practically non-existent, it begs the question of how educational institutions such as QMUL are among many globally to have failed students epically in providing adequate support academically, financially, and personally.

QMUL’s policies to protect students has been rather dismal – the lack of support or transparent discussions around no-detriment policies, a limited financial fund for students and no mention of a possible tuition refund for this academic year – QMUL has still charged on with expecting the best results from students academically. After all, a Russell-Group university would go to any lengths to push for academic excellence even if it came from the expense of its students’ lives. So why is a global health crisis not enough for education institutions to do better for students?

Higher Education will never be the same post-pandemic. With universities around the world that have consistently shown distance learning or online learning would be the go-to for the foreseeable future, it still does not answer for the exuberant amount of tuition fees. £9000 yearly tuition fees in the UK, almost $36,000 tuition fees in the US – if distance learning will be the new normal, why can a reduced tuition fee not be?

In South Africa, universities are expecting a further financial crisis as a result of the pandemic. This means the sustainability of universities throughout the region is in question. With an increase of demand for support in higher education facilities, and universities unable to provide such economic stability for students – the question of whether such institutions can remain is under scrutiny.

The US has outlined that if restrictions are not enforced on college campuses, colleges will become the new prime spot for an increase in covid-19 infections. More than 85 colleges have reported at least 1000 cases over the course of the pandemic with students online showing their interactions with professors and teaching staff who are refusing to provide students with support despite the growing concerns over the pandemic daily. The Facebook group “Zoom Memes for Self-Quaranteens” has shown countless student accounts of the realities of institutions, their lack of support, financial hardships and more that they are facing on a daily basis.

The problem in the UK is far from different. The £9000 tuition fee has not afforded students with the help, protection and support they are entitled to. The government has shown no possible plan to help protect students from the ever-growing concerns over the virus and the impending global recession.

Apart from the robotic, emotionless ‘hope you are well’ emails sent throughout universities and the complete ignorance of students in Boris Johnson’s nationwide statements other than to remind us again of the importance of staying home – what will it take for the government and institutions to realise that we need help?

The emails and words of encouragement have no impact unless actions are taken immediately and consistently, at QMUL and at universities around the world.

[DISPLAY IMAGE SOURCE: unsplash.com]

#tuitionfeerefund #wedeservearefund

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