Protesters argued that students shouldn’t have to pay the annual £9250 of tuition fees for the upcoming academic year due to the lack of in-person teaching and reduced facilities.
Students also criticised the fact that some universities, such as the University of Nottingham, still have some face-to-face teaching despite advice from experts to transfer all materials online. Many believe this is to deter students from dropping out, since students who leave university in their first term are liable for only 25% of the £9250.
Other universities, such as the University of East Anglia (UEA), are also charging their students for food packages delivered to students during self-isolation. The cost for a fortnight’s worth of food at UEA is £168.
As well as high costs, there have also been reports of inedible food, foods that don’t match students’ dietary requirements, and ingredients that only last a few days.
Employees at Nottingham University are also angry. 254 members of staff signed an open letter to the vice-chancellor to go against her wishes of stationing them throughout university halls to offer advice to students. The university reported over 1200 cases last week.
In Newcastle, members of the Socialist Workers Student Society protested outside both Newcastle and Northumbria Universities. They held a banner that said: “STUD£NTS B4 PROFIT” along with posters supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign.
One member of the society told Socialist Worker, “We want to demonstrate that the lives of the students should be valued more than the rent they pay”.
University and College Union (UCU) advised universities not to re-open their campuses this academic year in anticipation of the surge in cases. After the student protests, it demanded that students should be allowed to leave their accommodation at any point without having to pay for the whole year’s rent, and that jobs must be protected.
Featured image: Newcastle Workers Student Society Facebook