Councillor calls for university students in Sheffield to have a reduction in their fees

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A councillor says students should have part of their university fees reimbursed because their learning is online.

Coun Mick Rooney asked the vice chancellors of Sheffield's two universities if there had been any discussions about a fee reduction or refund.

He told a meeting: "I have three children at university, one at Sheffield and two in Manchester, and they are getting about an hour of real teaching, person to person, and the rest of it is online.

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"On top of that they are locked into expensive accommodation. They asked me what they are getting for £9,500 and I can't give them an answer.

Coun Mick RooneyCoun Mick Rooney
Coun Mick Rooney

"I understand this would cause universities some severe financial difficulties but is there any discussion taking place about some form of reduction in, or reimbursement of, the fees because they are not getting what they signed up for."

"In the first four weeks I spent a lot of time on our campuses and talked to as many students as I could,” he said.

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"They all understood that the circumstances we were delivering teaching in, and they were learning in, were not ideal.

Sheffield Hallam University Vice Chancellor Chris Husbands. Picture: Andrew RoeSheffield Hallam University Vice Chancellor Chris Husbands. Picture: Andrew Roe
Sheffield Hallam University Vice Chancellor Chris Husbands. Picture: Andrew Roe

"They were philosophical and appreciated this was not the experience that previous students had but they were realistic and understood.

"Every lecture is recorded in 15 minute bites that students can look at whenever they want.

"Both universities have a cost base, staff are working really hard and it's just as labour intensive as delivering lectures face to face.

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"The government needs to take some action. Reducing the fees would not save students a single penny. There has to be changes to the repayment of student loans, the rate of interest or the threshold for repayments and I have made this point to the government."

Koen Lamberts, vice chancellor of the University of Sheffield, added: "Throughout we have been working very hard to provide a high quality education programme so students can meet their learning outcomes.

"We ensured we continued to deliver courses that are fit for purpose which help students progress towards their qualifications.

"If students feel their learning outcomes have not been met, they are entitled to raise their concerns to us. We are determined to deliver the learning that they expect."

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