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1 in 5 UK Students Unable to Access Online Learning During Lockdown, Says NUS

Student online learning

The UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) have released research suggesting that one in five students currently don’t have any access to online learning, and one in three students have said their online learning has been of poor quality.

The research revealed that those hit the hardest include disabled students, students with work placements on their courses, and students who need to go into university to access studios, labs and workshops.

Demands for compensation

Struggling with online learning

NUS has launched a mass action of UK student complaints around disrupted learning due to the coronavirus. They are demanding that the government offer students some debt relief, financial compensation or the ability to redo a proportion of their studies, for no additional cost.

More than 500,000 students across the UK have signed petitions demanding refunds for tuition fees, but the NUS has said that institutions will need the government to step in if they were to refund students, as universities face significant financial challenges due to the coronavirus.

NUS said: “There are hundreds of thousands of students paying for an education they simply aren’t getting”.

“We’re calling for students to sign up to our mass action to win fair compensation either through a redo, write-off, or reimbursement,” said NUS Vice President, Claire Sosienski Smith.

“We know that there are students who can’t access their education right now.

“Many should be receiving training and education in subjects that can’t be delivered remotely; others are paying tuition fees while working on the NHS frontline…this action is for those students. We need to hear from you,” she said.

You can join the NUS complaint chain here.

Expectation of discounted tuition fees

In an ongoing survey, QS asked prospective international students whether they should receive a tuition fee discount for the period of online study and 78 percent said yes.

When asked how much this discount should be, the majority of recipients (21 percent) have said the discount should be 21 to 30 percent and 20 percent of students believed the discount should be higher, at 41 percent to 50 percent.

Several universities around the world have already changed tuition fees in response to the coronavirus. 

Mixed attitudes towards online learning

QS also asked prospective international students if they would still be interested in starting their studies this year if it meant beginning the course online. 47 percent said yes, they would still be interested, 27 percent said no, and the remaining 27 percent said they were unsure.

The number of students saying they would be interested increased to 64 percent when told that online learning would only be for a set period. This increased further to 78 percent, in the case that the period was a maximum of three months. 

Disappointment in the UK’s reaction to COVID-19

The ongoing QS research revealed that students were not impressed by the UK’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

When asked which country they think has handled the coronavirus outbreak the best, only two percent of students said the UK, with the majority (28 percent) saying New Zealand.

It is currently uncertain whether this will impact the number of international students studying in the UK.

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Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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