The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many institutions, businesses, and individuals, but universities have been under fire for their minimal effort in maintaining the quality of teaching and student learning experiences, according to students.
Additionally, many students have reportedly felt frustrated about the disruption to their studies due to lecturer strikes in relation to work contracts, which also limited in-person teaching in 2019/20.
The main concerns of the student body this academic year revolve around the reduced quality of online teaching compared with that of in-person lectures, seminars, and workshops; especially when students are predominantly expected to produce the same quality of work as the years before.
With fewer facilities available, including limited access to libraries, study spaces, and fewer contact hours, students have felt they are expected to find a solution independently without support from their universities.
A survey published by The Independent found that 40% of university students have considered dropping out during the coronavirus pandemic. The findings, by student support service Studiosity and Red Brick Research, took place just after most courses were moved online due to the lockdown in England.
Over 80% of the 2000 students who took part in the survey said their education had been affected negatively by the pandemic, mostly referring to less time on campus, less face-to-face teaching and an increase in online learning.
The annual report of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) has recommended financial remedies totalling £742 132. It also ruled in favour of many students when receiving complaints from them - significantly more than in previous years.
Concerns around worse academic conditions this year are not only related to academic success, but also to how much the education is worth with the current setbacks. Despite multiple fee reduction petitions, one reaching more than half a million signatures, and conversations around the topic, real change seems to be more difficult to achieve.
The OIA's announcement that groups of students can now submit joint complaints is said to be financially threatening to universities who are worried about receiving too many successful complaints.