Day and Dickie argue it is time for the government to recognise the detrimental impact that online learning has had on students’ university experience and wellbeing, as well as the financial burden that students carry.
They are lobbying the government to compensate the Class of 2021, recommending that a "fair and inclusive" approach to compensating students is implemented.
Their proposed approach includes recognising the lost learning experience students have had and reducing the debt incurred this academic year by a third. They also demand for the loan repayment threshold to be raised due to the current state of the graduate market.
Likewise, a package of support equivalent to that being offered by the Welsh and Scottish Governments, and compensating students who have been unable to travel to term-time accommodation is recommended.
Earlier this academic year, Newcastle University made the decision to refund all students in university-owned accommodation for the time that they were not present in the city due to COVID-19. This move will cost the University around £11 million, with Day adamant that "it’s the right and moral thing to do".
With over fifty per cent of Newcastle University students living in privately-owned accommodation this rent cut decision does not solve the problem for all.
An online petition calling for the government to implement legislation to allow students to end tenancy agreements early is circulating online, which helps to address the issue.
Dickie adds, "We need to recognise that all students have missed out this year on the wider student experience, that there has there has been a loss of personal development opportunities and a toll on mental wellbeing".
She concludes, "A push for this type of compensation is something that is needed to reflect what has happened over the 2020/21 academic year."