Tuition, assessments and fees

Answers to common questions about tuition, assessments and grading during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Universities are doing everything they can to make sure students are supported. Students with questions should go their university's dedicated webpages about coronavirus. These pages will include the most up to date information and advice, as well as what students should do and who they should contact if they need any additional support.


Will students get their next student loan and maintenance loan payment?

Can students request a refund on their tuition fees? 

How are students without internet access, or those who have disabilities or care responsibilities being helped to access learning and continue studying? 

How will students be assessed this term? 

Are universities going to cancel exams, in the same way that A-level exams have been cancelled?

Are exams going to be fair if they are delivered online? 

What happens to assessments for professional qualifications?

Will there be a delay to the start of the 2020/21 academic year?

Resources


Q: Will students get their next student loan and maintenance loan payment?

A: Yes, the Student Loans Company has confirmed that students will receive their scheduled or next instalment of their maintenance loan at the planned start of their summer term, regardless of whether their university or provider has made alternative arrangements for teaching.


Q: Can students request a refund on their tuition fees?

A: Universities recognise that students are concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on their studies. Universities are working hard to provide remote teaching and support so that students can achieve the required learning outcomes for their course of study. Major efforts are being made by university staff to ensure that course modules can be completed, resources can be accessed, exams and assessments can proceed where appropriate, and qualifications can be awarded. Universities also continue to provide careers advice and support for mental health and wellbeing.

Where there is wide-ranging support for active and ongoing learning and progression, students should not expect any fee refund from their university. This has also been made clear in an online FAQ by the Department for Education.

Students who have difficulty continuing with their learning, perhaps because of illness, caring responsibilities or lack of access to IT, or who are not satisfied with the alternative provision and support they are getting, should make this known to their university in the first instance. Every university will have their own established process for managing complaints, and will be mindful of the extenuating circumstances.

The university will do what they can to address the complaint. If the student is not happy with the result, they can take their complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator in England and Wales, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman or to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman.

Read the full statement from Universities UK on this question.


Q: How are students without internet access, or those who have disabilities or care responsibilities being helped to access learning and continue studying? 

A: Universities are doing what they can to ensure nobody misses out on teaching because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and can discuss arrangements with students who are not able to use or access alternative course materials and teaching. Students who are unable to access online learning due to a lack of internet access, or a disability or a caring responsibility, should contact their university over the phone for advice. 


Q: How will students be assessed this term?

A: How universities assess students will depend on the course and the university. It is up to universities to decide an approach to assessments that is most suitable under the circumstances.

Universities are working hard to ensure as many students as possible can continue with their studies, access alternative forms of teaching, and are able to demonstrate – and feel confident – that they have met all the required learning outcomes.

Universities will be flexible in their approach and take these decisions locally, so that they reflect the variation between different degree programmes and curricula. The Universities UK letter in response to the NUS has more detail on this.


Q: Are universities going to cancel exams, in the same way that A-level exams have been cancelled?

A: Although there have been some calls for exams to be cancelled, it will be down to individual universities to decide how to assess students, whether to continue with an examination, or find a different way to establish the grade. 

Universities recognise the exceptional circumstances in which students are being taught and assessed but they need to ensure that for those individuals graduating or progressing with their studies this year, the qualifications they are awarded hold their value and meet the requirements of accrediting bodies.

Universities will follow the guidance of established bodies, such as the Quality Assurance Agency.


Q: Are exams going to be fair if they are delivered online?

A: Universities are doing all they can to ensure that all assessments are fair and follow official guidelines. They are working with agencies that regulate exams and assessments, and are thinking about the different types of courses to make sure that assessments are appropriate.Find out more on the Quality Assurance Agency website.


Q: What happens to assessments for professional qualifications?

A: For degrees accredited and regulated by PSRBs there may be separate requirements that students must usually meet, and it is not always within the power of individual universities to alter these.

Universities are working closely with PSRBs to make sure that the qualifications students are awarded hold their value and meet the requirements of accrediting bodies so as to enable students to progress smoothly into their chosen profession.

 

Q: Will there be a delay to the start of the 2020/21 academic year?

A: Universities across the UK will be teaching and providing a high-quality learning experience for students this autumn. How and when universities resume activities on campus will depend on the university and its specific health and safety measures and the needs of staff and students, as well as the wider public health advice and guidance in their nation. 

Universities will be doing everything they can to make sure that no new or continuing student misses out next academic year and public health advice will play a role in decisions about when and in what form – whether online, in person or a combination of the two – the next academic year begins. Universities will be providing more detailed information to existing and new students in the coming weeks.

Universities have continued to provide high quality teaching and access to support since the pandemic began, and will be thinking carefully about how to continue doing so in the new academic year. Depending on the health advice, universities will have contingencies in place to support all students to continue their studies, either remotely or in person. 



Resources:

Higher education regulation in the devolved nations

England: Office for Students 

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