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Students should consider taking joint action against universities that force them to attend Zoom lectures, according to the Education Secretary.
Nadhim Zahawi will today encourage young people to challenge institutions that fail to provide ‘any’ or ‘insufficient’ face-to-face teaching. His intervention comes as tens of thousands of students return to campuses after the Christmas break.
Despite curbs on face-to-face learning being lifted last May, some universities are still teaching lectures online while charging £9,250-a-year fees.
More than 100 institutions, including many in the Russell Group, reportedly plan to offer a mix of online and face-to-face teaching again this term.
Remote learning: Despite curbs on face-to-face learning being lifted last May, some universities are still teaching lectures online while charging £9,250-a-year fees
Student unions may be able to support raising concerns over online teaching ‘as a group’
In an open letter, Mr Zahawi said: ‘If you feel that you are not getting the face-to-face teaching you signed up for, or that you would expect, talk to your university or college.’ He added: ‘I know that students expect and deserve face-to-face teaching and support, and you have my full backing.’
Student unions may be able to support raising concerns ‘as a group’. But if still dissatisfied after a complaint, students can contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) via its Large Group Complaints process. He said: ‘This is intended for complaints from a large group of students at a single provider where there is a high degree of commonality between the complaints.’
The minister said in 2020 the OIA made recommendations in more than 280 cases on issues ‘including disruption caused by Covid-19’. Compensation reached more than £450,000 and an additional £282,000 was paid under OIA settlements. The Office for Students also has a notification process to highlight issues such as course ‘quality’.
Last night Mr Zahawi told the Daily Mail the UK ‘must learn to live with the virus’ and students ‘deserve a fair deal regardless of the pandemic’.
Mr Zahawi told the Daily Mail the UK ‘must learn to live with the virus’ and students ‘deserve a fair deal regardless of the pandemic’
He said: ‘While virtual learning can complement and enhance the learning experience, I do not want to see students who were promised face-to-face education receiving anything less than the highest quality teaching.’
A Universities UK spokesman said: ‘Like schools, colleges, and other sectors, universities are still having to balance the provision of in-person activities with public health measures to protect students and staff.’
A Russell Group spokesman said: ‘In-person teaching remains at the heart of the university experience. At all Russell Group universities students can expect seminars, small group classes and lab work to be taught in-person.’
n More than a dozen MPs and peers yesterday backed a court challenge to the Government over making pupils wear masks in class. Parent group UsforThem sent a letter to Mr Zahawi calling the guidance discriminatory and disproportionate and said a judicial review would be launched if it was not changed.
Source: Daily Mail