‘University students are being forgotten’

26 May 2020 10:16
Published by: Scott Callan

University students are the forgotten victims of Covid-19 with many not receiving the standard of education they are paying for as the pandemic exposes weaknesses in the higher education system, a former cabinet minister has warned.

Tatton MP Esther McVey wants to hear from students facing massive changes in how they access education and how they feel they have been treated, whether they regret going to university and if they feel the pandemic has ruined what many say are the best years of their lives.

She is asking people to fill in a short survey which looks at teaching, online content and whether students should be given partial refunds as a result of Covid-19 to gain valuable data to present to universities minister Michelle Donelan.

Ms McVey said: “We have heard so much about getting children back in the classroom, but university students appear to have been forgotten. For the last two month they have been cut adrift, with inadequate alternative provisions for lectures, tutorials, library facilities and reading materials and online support.

“Other sectors and industries adapted quickly using online conferencing from Zoom to Microsoft Team but from talking to students it appears our academic institutions were slow to follow.

“While some have supported their students, the vast majority appear to have offered little support leaving students up and down the country feeling let down and out of pocket, with no offer of refunds forthcoming.”

The survey stemmed from conversations with students and parents concerned about educational standards. In her latest podcast looking at different ways the country is having to adapt due to Coronavirus, the MP interviewed two second year students for the podcast who felt let down by their institutions and another 17-year-old who now wants to defer his place.


Cambridge became the first university to announce it is moving all its lectures online until summer 2021 with more expected to follow suit. This leaves students facing tough choices over whether to defer their place or pause their current degree.

Ms McVey said: “Universities need to tell students what is going to happen from September so they can make informed choices about their future. Students I have spoken to are understandably frustrated and say if they wanted an online degree they would have opted for Open University.

“They are being told they will be marked ‘compassionately’ and while some told me they appreciated that, many others felt this was an attempt to stop them complaining about the level of education they were receiving or trying to get some of the fees back.”

To fill in the survey please visit https://www.bluecollarconservatism.co.uk/survey

To watch Esther McVey’s podcast go to http://bluecollar.buzzsprout.com

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