Sheffield medical students forced to pay accommodation fees for one hour of face-to-face teaching

Medical students in Sheffield are hitting out at university chiefs for forcing them to pay their full accommodation fees for just one hour of face-to-face teaching per week.

Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 1:22 pm

Under current Covid restrictions, the Government has said that students should try to stay at home and study remotely to help stem the spread of the virus.

And in a ‘pro-active stance’ the University of Sheffield has said it will not charge rent to those students told to stay at home.

But trainee doctors have been summoned back to the city, and are now speaking out after they discovered they would only get one hour of face-to-face teaching per week.

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(Left) Sheffield University (Right) A student leaves their University accommodation by Hugh Hastings for Getty Images.

A source who did not want to be named said this had caused an ‘immense feeling of injustice across the medical and dentistry cohort, creating ill feeling, negativity and unnecessary stress’.

They added: “In essence, medicine, dentistry and other exempt category of student in university run or managed accommodation are being penalised for returning to site for one hour of ‘planned’ face to face education, whereas those on other courses do not have to return and such are not liable to accommodation costs.

"The one hour of face to face is, in effect, costing £150 accommodation fee per week in addition to tuition fees.

"The government have identified a critical group of students that are fundamental to the long term national healthcare system, however prima facie this group are being penalised by the university whilst all other groups of students benefit from the offer by the university not to charge.

" In the context of the number of students who need to return to limited face to face, who live in university run accommodation, this accounts for maybe 10 per cent of all beds, yet the university appear to want to go through a process of singling out these individuals to charge them.

"An administrative task that cannot justify the revenue recovered or the bad feeling this will cause."

A spokesperson from the University of Sheffield had this response: “We understand the Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time for students and we are committed to supporting students in the best possible way.

“As part of this continued support, the University will not be charging rent to students who are unable to make use of their University owned or managed accommodation due to the government’s new lockdown restrictions between January 4 to February 22 2021.

“Government guidelines mean that students on certain courses, including medicine, can return to university for in-person teaching and those who need to use their university accommodation will continue to be charged rent as per their contract. In addition to on-campus teaching time, students will also have access to study spaces at the University.

"For medical students, on-campus teaching time will focus on important practical clinical teaching which provides core skills and a vital foundation for their future learning.

“We will continue listening to our students and reviewing the issues they raise, as well as working with the Students’ Union to ensure we are providing students with the most effective and appropriate support.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.