Sheffield students call for compensation after missing 13 weeks of ‘vital’ teaching
University students in Sheffield are seeking compensation to cover 13 weeks of teaching which have been lost due to a combination of strike action and the Covid-19 pandemic.
A petition has been set up by second year journalism students at Sheffield Hallam University demanding £3,879 compensation for those who have lost contact time in their studies due to six weeks of industrial action between November 2019 and March this year.
Since beginning their degree in 2019, the students have also been met with two national lockdowns and are now facing the prospect that their current semester may finish early as universities look to ‘evacuate’ students for Christmas during a "student travel window" between December 3 and 9 to minimise the risk of them spreading Covid-19.
Despite this, the group have still paid £9,250 a year in tuition fees and say the compensation is “only fair” given the amount of loss in teaching hours and the fact they have had little to no access to campus facilities during 2020.
One of the second year students, Ellie Houghton, 23, said: "We feel like we were completely forgotten about.
"Entering our second year we were promised that everything would be as normal as possible, yet we have only two hours a week physically in university and we only have that as we have to use the radio studios.”
She added: "I feel like as a whole students are struggling anyway, we’ve been used as a scapegoat in this whole thing. We’re mad because we’re missing out on our education and what should supposedly be the best time of our lives. It’s so different to what people are making it out to be.”
The students say that they are in no way blaming their lecturers and believe fault does not entirely lie with Sheffield Hallam University for the disruption caused during the course of ther time at the institution.
However, they believe they are still entitled to the money – either as a refund or as money off their next tuition fee payment – as they are “paying for a service that is not being delivered as it should be.”
Ruby Furby, 19, who is also on the journalism course at Sheffield Hallam, said: “I can understand that in March the university had no option but to send everyone home but I think it could have been handled better.
"Going into second year we were told that our tuition fee was going to be the same and at that point I think everyone was past it and had no fight left in them after the strikes and everything last year.
"But, I think we’ve all had a bit of time to rest and lived this semester and realised how different the levels of teaching are and now we’re riled up and determined to fight again.”
In a statement, Sheffield Hallam University said: “We recognise that the university experience has been different this year. The effects of the global pandemic have meant that it has been impossible to provide the kind of university experience that many of our students are used to or would have been expecting.
“We understand this and are doing everything possible to provide a fulfilling, enriching and safe experience despite the circumstances. This includes on campus teaching, access to specialist facilities, dedicated advisors to guide students through their studies as well as online learning delivered by our academics.
“We will continue to adapt and develop our plans, in response to changing government restrictions and guidelines for universities, to ensure we are keeping our students, staff and wider community safe while providing the best possible learning experience.”
The students are now urging others to sign their petition and call on their own individual institutions to reimburse any wasted tuition fees.