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Students: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL8777, tabled on 5 October 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that students who have been impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns are offered partial tuition fee refunds.

Answered on

19 October 2020

Universities have worked hard to put in place a wide range of measures to deliver a COVID-secure environment. These include enhanced cleaning and improved ventilation, smaller groups for in-person teaching, adjusted timetables to limit contact between groups, and changes to physical layouts to comply with social distancing guidelines.

The government expects universities to continue delivering a high-quality academic experience. It is a registration condition of the Office for Students (OfS) that institutions must deliver well-designed courses which provide a high-quality academic experience for all students and enable a student’s achievement to be reliably assessed.

Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees, up to a maximum of £9,250 for approved (fee cap) institutions. In deciding to keep charging full fees, universities will of course want to ensure that they can continue to deliver courses that are fit for purpose and that help students progress their qualifications. Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the institution and the student.

If a student is concerned about their education, in the first instance they should speak to their higher education institution. The government expects student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly and sympathetically. Students who are not satisfied with their institution’s response can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) to consider their complaint if their institution is based in England or Wales.

Additionally, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance on consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds in light of COVID-19. This sets out the CMA’s view on how the law operates to help consumers understand their rights and help businesses treat their customers fairly. This is available here:

The OfS has also published guidance on student consumer protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is available here: