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Universities: Remote Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN 141188, tabled on 16 March 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to (a) support and (b) offer redress to university students whose face-to-face teaching has been replaced by online and pre-recorded lectures since the lifting of covid-19 restrictions.

Answered on

24 March 2022

Higher education (HE) providers have delivered new and innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and some providers continue to use some of these approaches alongside in-person provision. However, online learning should only be offered to enhance the student experience, not to detract from it, and it should not be used as a cost-cutting measure.

The department has written to all English HE providers to make clear that we expect them to be offering a high-quality face-to-face student experience and, on 17 January 2022, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, wrote an open letter to students about face-to-face teaching, setting out what they can do if they feel they are not getting the teaching they signed up for. In addition, I have been speaking with a number of university Vice Chancellors to ensure they are offering students the amount of in-person teaching they should expect, including speaking with seven universities regarding concerns about their face to face teaching provision to ensure they are offering students the amount of in-person teaching they expect.

In line with all other settings, HE providers should continue to conduct risk assessments for their particular circumstances. Risk assessments should take account of the approach to managing the virus in wider society, particularly now that all restrictions have been removed and the vaccine programme continues to be rolled out. Risk assessments should never be used to prevent providers delivering a full programme of face-to-face teaching and learning.

HE providers are independent and autonomous bodies which are responsible for the management of their own affairs. If students have concerns about the delivery of their university courses, they should first raise them with their provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for HE to consider their complaint. Recommendations can include practical remedies as well as financial compensation where that is deemed appropriate.

Interests declared
The Member has declared that they have interests which may be relevant to the subject matter of this question.