Students feel "used as cash cows" over online University teaching

October 19, 2020

Image courtesy of: Wix 

 

Students have been branded as “cash cows” by one undergraduate as they claim the move to online learning does not appear to add up to the £9,250 tuition fees.

 

With lectures this term delivered online and seminars a mix of online and in-person, the university has stated it has safety as its top priority. However, some students have been left wondering where their tuition fee payments are really going this term with some of them not even stepping foot on campus.

 

Louis French, an English Literature Postgraduate student, said: “[online teaching is] good as long as it keeps us safe”

 

However, they also viewed paying the full fee amount as “unfair as it’s not really worth it".

 

Mr French went on to mention the difficulties with blended learning: “it’s difficult to interact as everyone’s on small screens.

 

"You can’t really talk about a text as everyone has different editions and you can’t simply point to a line as no one can see it."

 

In-person interaction with peers has previously been marketed by the university as key to the student experience, but online teaching has become a barrier for that. 

 

However, this new way of learning is proving to be beneficial to other students.

 

Ellie Plews, a second-year American Studies student said that “online seminars, for me, are generally working really well and in a way it perhaps gives students more confidence to speak up and contribute."

 

Jay Davies-Pyke, an Organisational and Business Psychology Postgraduate student, can also see the benefits, stating: “online does make things a lot easier in terms of meeting with supervisors."

 

Nevertheless, the anxiety over what students are missing out on is still at the forefront of their minds. Mr Davies-Pyke expresses “that the lack of face-to-face social contact is going to make university suck this term, how are you going to make new friends over Zoom?” 

 

While seminars are being delivered both in-person and online, lectures are being conducted entirely online which Miss Plews says “take twice as long to complete and not to be able to interact with lecturers is proving quite hard."  

 

The reality of paying full tuition for online learning is still frustrating students. Miss Plews says that “it’s perhaps the best that it could be but for us to be paying full tuition for limited or no in person teaching hours is insane."

 

Miss Plews further goes on to indicate her view that “students have just been used as cash cows and I think the university needs to seriously implement some form of compensation back to students."

 

The Goodwill Payment Scheme was offered to students who were affected by the strikes last year but some claim that it did not represent the contact hours lost.

 

Mr French lost over twenty hours of teaching to only be paid back the highest instalment of £120.

 

He said: “it’s just not good enough".

 

While this blended way of university teaching does seem to be working for some and has been promoted by the university as the safest method until a vaccine is introduced, students have been left wondering where their tuition fee payments are going.

 

Online learning has its restrictions and interactivity is a major part of it — students want that interaction with their peers and seminar leaders but feel this online system is not fulfilling that need. 
 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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