We’ve been getting lots of requests from students as to what our position is regarding the current situation and over the last week, questions around tuition fees, value for money and accommodation costs have increased.
We know you understand why there has been a move to online teaching, why there have been further restrictions on access to campus and why for some of you, you are having to self-isolate in your accommodation. We also know and understand that you are frustrated and concerned about the impact this has on the quality of your learning, your mental health, your holistic student experience and of course, your future.
As your Students’ Union it is our role to ensure we are always lobbying on behalf of all students to ensure your interests are known, understood and considered by the University as well as nationally through the National Union of Students. The conversation around refunding tuition fees is a complex one but students are asking the question and as of yet, no real answer has been provided.
Over the last few months we have been involved with discussions on the student experience including how blended learning will work, the no detriment framework, support for self-isolation and maintaining student wellbeing. Whilst we support any move to online teaching when it protects the health and wellbeing of students, we believe a high-quality experience needs to be maintained.
Throughout these discussions we have also seen the hard work behind the scenes by University staff often making challenging decisions to ensure the University is open, safe and offers accessible, quality learning. We know this hasn’t been easy and often impacted by decisions out of the University’s hands.
However, we know students are experiencing ‘less-than’ they expected, and that is not good enough. Our students deserve better than that, which is why we are joining forces with the #StudentsDeserveBetter campaign through NUS and other Students’ Unions.
It is not good enough that students are struggling financially due to lack of part-time work opportunities, it is not good enough that students feel misled into securing costly accommodation that many now feel trapped in, it is not good enough that students are feeling un-valued and un-heard and targeted as scapegoats for a situation not of their doing.
It is not good enough that there is a lack of central, national guidance and policy in the support of students at this time. We are and will continue to lobby the government and all sector bodies to work together, address students’ concerns and be transparent in their decisions as a matter of urgency and priority. We will keep asking the same questions every day on your behalf until the relevant sector bodies respond and act.
This statement isn’t a pause on the issue but a call for students to contact us, engage in our Zoom calls, join JMSU Hangout on Facebook, sign the #StudentsDeserveBetter petition here and continue doing all they can to help support each other during these tough times and keep our community safe.
We will continue to listen, help as best we can and lobby those who can make a difference to act in the best interests of students.
Lila, Tuba, Megan and Emily
JMSU Executive Team 2020/21