US Students Receive Compensation from Universities While UK Student Continue to Wait
“Being immersed in a learning environment matters,” stated Christopher L. Eisgruber, the President of Princeton University, during a Washington Post interview at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. Since then, we have seen several universities in the United States offering compensation to students. The question arises as to why UK universities have not followed suit and provided similar support.
In June 2023, the University of Delaware joined a long list of US universities settling Covid-19 lawsuits. The University agreed to pay $6.3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by over 21,000 students complaining about the campus shutdown during lockdowns.
In another success story, lawyers representing Colorado University students who were denied access to services already paid for during the COVID-19 lockdowns, said “it was the wrong decision for public schools to keep money for services they weren’t providing. Students generally are cash poor in the first place, and it’s not fair to keep their money when they’re getting nothing in return.” The university settled the case, paying $5 million to students who enrolled during the spring 2020 semester.
As for the UK, an undisclosed university was ordered to pay an international medical student £5,000 after all clinical placements were stopped during the first lockdown. The healthcare student experienced severe “disappointment and inconvenience”. Furthermore, they claimed that this experience also disadvantaged them when applying for jobs.
This is a standout case, as hundreds of thousands of students across the UK did not get the compensation they deserve.
Hristina Manova, who enrolled in an Adult Nursing course at King’s College, has told the Student Group Claim: “I still don’t have a basic technical skillset… I was subject to heavy criticism from senior practice assessors during my placements in hospitals for not having basic knowledge and being unprepared… I didn’t receive a discounted tuition fee, I paid the full fee of £9250 for a full time ‘Delivery mode: Classroom’” course, as was stated on KCL’s website.”
Decreasing Tuition Fees
While the average tuition fees in the US are still increasing, the 2020-21 academic year saw the lowest percentage increase in fees in the last 30 years. Many universities recognised the compromised learning environment and decreased teaching costs accordingly. Maud S. Mandel, the President of Williams College, stated: “the pandemic and associated challenges are requiring us to cancel winter study as well as fall athletics competition and many student activities, among other opportunities.” US colleges, unlike their UK counterparts, acknowledged that the students’ university experience has been compromised – education encompasses more than just information absorption. Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in New Jersey also implemented a 22% to 25% decrease in fees for new students in 2021, resulting in costs that stood at $32,000.
This should serve as a warning for UK universities to consider similar measures for their students facing comparable and equally troubling circumstances.
Students in the UK have been paying a full tuition fees, despite a petition signed by half a million individuals back in 2021 calling for a reduction. Years later, the students and graduates only hope is to receive some form of compensation for a university experience they were promised but never received.