Students plan protests over Universities switch to online learning


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Students in Bristol are threatening to withhold £1 million worth of rent as social unrest continues to mount across the UK over universities and their new method of learning.

With 80% of students worried about how they can manage/pay rent thanks to COVID-19, according to a National Union of Students survey, it is clear that money is on the minds of students across the country.

One 4th year student from the University of Liverpool said: “We are now starting the semester in September, six months later [since the crisis forced students home] and the lack of preparation is completely evident.”

On the consequences of Online Learning, the Spanish and English Literature student said: “Not only this, but as landlords seem to think we’re happy squatting in conditions all too often unacceptable for living, we now have to spend nearly all our time in these residences, with curfews and additionally now, our studies online”.

800 students at the University of Bristol in halls have apparently signed a pledge to withhold rent money due on Friday 23 October.

This is the safest way they can currently protest as students struggle to make their concerns heard through the barrier of a computer screen.

Contradictorily, according to the University and College Union (UCU), a majority of staff would prefer for teaching to operate predominantly online in order to keep both staff and students safe.

In an official statement, they said: “The pressure on institutions to attract tuition fee income, combined with the government’s failure to stand behind the sector financially during this crisis, has contributed to the decision to push ahead with unnecessary face-to-face provision which threatens the physical and mental health of students, staff and local communities”.

Students are ploughing between £9,250 and around £20,000 into their university tuition, while the average annual salary for a lecturer in the UK is around £33,000.

While students are desperate to see their tuition fee money put to use, lecturers are equally desperate to be paid proportionate to the extra strain online teaching has incurred.

Despite young people largely choosing to follow COVID-19 safety measures, the overall consensus has been that they should not be required to pay full tuition if they aren’t being able to make full use of university facilities.

Five virtual hours a week costs students roughly £421 a week, assuming that the fee for the year is £9,250.

With reduced library and resource access, restrictions on social integration, and very few in person meetings, students believe they are getting less for the same price.

“As if being charged £9,250 a year for 11-20 hours a week wasn’t already enough, we are now getting charged the same for as little one hour of contact a week”.

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

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