Uea(su) officers Alicia Perez and Sophie Atherton have joined more than 9,000 people in supporting a petition to reimburse tuition fees or clear debt for this year.
The petition, which Manchester University’s Student Union (MUSU) started, says “It is not feasible to ask Universities to refund tuition fees as they are not legally obliged to” and “doing so would cause a severe financial strain on universities”.
MUSU believes this year’s tuition fees should be wiped clean. Their officials reassured Concrete they are not only asking for the removal of tuition fee debt but also refunds for students who pay the fees themselves, such as international students and those who do not use government loans.
However Universities minister Michelle Donelan said the government does not believe students should have their tuition fees reimbursed if teaching quality remains. She said: “We have already seen, over the last few months, courses being delivered online and virtually to an amazing degree of quality, and I know the efforts made across the sector to facilitate that”.
Initially Uea(su) worried University staff would see Uea(su) signing the petition as an indication they did not support the University and College Union’s strikes.
Uea(su) officers said they decided to sign the petition as they “support our students that are asking to be refunded tuition fees by the government as we understand the situation that we are in and after carefully going through the letter, we realised it doesn’t actually blame the UCU strikes but rather the lack of agreement from government’s and universities’ side to resolve the problem.”
“Because of this, we were able to sign the petition to support our student needs without breaching our policy.
Officers added the SU has also “been working with staff and officers from the Southern SU’s group and NUS to help develop the NUS Student Safety Net Campaign which is now our joint plan of action, which has included us writing to our local MP which we have done. We don’t know if the Government will listen to us, we can’t guarantee success, but if we do nothing, we can guarantee failure.”