Sheffield student leaders call for £2,700 discount on tuition fees due to Covid

Sheffield student leaders have offered to accept higher interest on their loans in exchange for an immediate £2,700 discount on their tuition fees as compensation for the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A group of students unions led by the University of Sheffield and London School of Economics have written an open letter to the the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson and the universities minister, Michelle Donelan to propose that the government funds a 30 per cent tuition fee rebate for undergraduate students this year.

The leaders of Rusell Group students’ unions said the proposal is based on modelling by economic advisory firm London Economics that shows that by applying an increase to the real interest rate on the repayment of fees up to 6.2%, the government would be able to offer a £2,700 non-means tested grant to all undergraduate students using the student loans company.

This, they said, would only affect the highest earning graduates in the long-term, and wouldn't affect the taxpayer.

University of Sheffield

According to them, the demand follows the detrimental impacts which the global pandemic has had on the student experience this year.

Sheffield students, in particular, have faced limited face-to-face teaching, restricted facilities and social opportunities.

Some have been trapped paying for accommodation they can’t use, with others reporting worsening mental health.

Beth Eyre, President at Sheffield Students’ Union, said: “Students have lost out this year and deserve compensation.

"Our model is the start of a conversation about how we compensate them in a way that doesn’t harm the universities that can’t afford it, or the taxpayer.

“This year, students have been forgotten at every turn. It is time for the government to listen, take leadership and contribute solutions themselves.”

David Gordon, General Secretary at London School of Economics Students’ Union, said: “With little to no support or leadership from the government, we as students have come together to create solutions around fee compensation.

"This model, and our approach is focused on urging the government to finally support students, who have been so readily forgotten this year.

"With no additional costs to the taxpayer, our approach will level the playing field for female and lower-earning graduates and crucially put money in their pockets at a time when they need it and deserve it most.”