Students at universities affected by coronavirus should apply for a tuition refund if the quality of their course deteriorates, the higher education watchdog said last night.
At least 40 universities have recorded virus cases – about one in four – and thousands of students locked in halls.
They have complained about "disgusting" conditions as they are essentially sealed off from the outside world.
The situation has fueled growing anger over the prospect of no face-to-face learning despite fees of up to £ 9,250 per year.
The regulator of the Office for Students (OfS) has now urged students who believe the quality of their education is being affected to complain and has warned universities not to have a “blanket policy” against reimbursements.
CEO Nicola Dandridge said, “Students have a right to high quality higher education – whether online, in person, or a mixture of both.
Students at universities affected by coronavirus should apply for a tuition refund if the quality of their course deteriorates, the higher education watchdog said last night. They have complained about "disgusting" conditions as they are essentially sealed off from the outside world.
“If you think it is not, you can raise concerns with your university and refer complaints to the Independent Judge's office where no resolution can be found.
"You can also inform the OfS and we can and will investigate whether we believe that universities have not taken all reasonable steps to protect standards, or whether the quality is deteriorating for groups of students."
She added, "When considering whether to provide partial refunds for tuition fees, we expect a university to consider the circumstances for each student, rather than adopt a blanket policy that refunds are not available."
Schools should be the last places where future locks will be closed, says the child watchdog
Schools should be the last places to close on future lockdowns, the children's watch dog said yesterday.
It is wrong to let pubs and shops such as pet shops open in early summer while children stay at home, said Anne Longfield, pictured child commissioner. She called on ministers to ensure that "schools are the last to close and the first to reopen when there are further closures".
Pressure from government observer on how children are treated, Miss Longfield, comes amid growing concerns over the prospect of millions of children being deprived of education if infections continue to rise and lockdowns are reinstated.
A study follows that shows that children are 40 percent less likely to develop Covid-19 than adults.
Professor Russell Viner of University College London said, “The most important thing about this research is that it helps keep schools open.
“Schools have to be open and almost the last place to close. To learn to live with this virus we need to keep schools open. "
Ms. Dandridge insisted that universities need to be clear on how to access food and virus testing during outbreaks.
Prior to the academic year, students were promised a "high quality, complete, and exciting university experience," but scenes of chaos have surfaced in some locations.
National Union of Students President Larissa Kennedy has blown the "disgusting conditions" some students live in and questioned the legality of their detention.
She told ITV's Good Morning Britain that certain students didn't have enough to eat and asked if it was legal to keep them together this way without access to the things they need.
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), where 1,700 students are in isolation, announced yesterday that they would be reimbursed for more than a week's rent and provided a package of basic groceries.
Many students complained that they felt like they were in a "detention center," with guards preventing them from leaving and officers ordering them to remove SOS-style posters from windows.
One said, "I'm a little worried I paid £ 6,000 when I could have just done it online, lived at home, and then moved in in my sophomore year."
The university's vice chancellor, Professor Malcolm Press, said a "significant amount of money" is being returned in addition to food to ensure students feel "protected and cared for". The University of Glasgow has also offered insulating students a monthly rent refund as well as a £ 50 payment for groceries following an outbreak.
The refunds could open the floodgates for claims to universities across the UK. Universities UK, which represents institutions, said flat-rate refunds were "prohibitive" as a lot of money was being spent on preparing for the academic year during the pandemic.
A spokesperson said: “Compared to a normal year, universities have spent a lot more on Covid-19 security measures, improved digital learning platforms and additional learning support for students and catch-up studies.
"In this very difficult year, universities want to offer their students a high quality and engaging educational experience while putting their physical and mental wellbeing first."
Some opposition MPs backed calls from the UCU faculty union, demanding that all universities switch to online teaching.
During the summer, universities feared financial chaos if students stayed away and promised them "significant personal tuition and a wide range of social activities" in June.
Prior to the academic year, students were promised a “high quality, complete, and exciting university experience” but scenes of chaos have surfaced in some locations. Pictured: Two students locked up in a Manchester dormitory
UCU boss Dr. However, Jo Grady said that encouraging students to move into the halls despite the danger "looked like a cynical effort to extract the lodging fees and then worry about what to do".
She added, "We believe that a summer of selling a university experience to potential students that couldn't be delivered would have been better used to follow the science and properly prepare for this inevitable crisis."
Labor MP Siobhain McDonagh said the students looked like they were being used as "cash cows," adding, "Surely these issues could have been expected before the semester started?"
She told the BBC, "Students like to have fun, like to go out on freshers week – that's not new to anyone, is it?"
Downing Street said students can be expected to return home for Christmas after Scotland also softened its leadership after an outcry north of the border.
In the meantime, Exeter University asks students who live in town not to hang out indoors with anyone who does not belong to their household.
It said there has been a "sustained surge" in cases of Covid-19 students. The university said the move didn't mean students can't go out and listed a number of exceptions, including studying, work or in an emergency where people are at risk.
During the summer, universities feared financial chaos if students stayed away and promised them "significant personal tuition and a wide range of social activities" in June. Pictured: A student puts a "Help Us" made of sticky notes on his window
University Minister Michelle Donelan warned the institutions last night that they “must give students as much clarity as possible about the tuition fees they will be receiving and ensure that guidelines on Covid-19 testing as well as social and emergency resources are available ".
Meanwhile, lawyers are investigating damages for wrongful detention on behalf of nine students who claim they have been illegally banned.
This came after Manchester City Council ordered the 1,700 MMU students to self-isolate. Some described security guards refusing to let them off campus.
Over the weekend, human rights lawyers suggested that the students had a case for alleging false detention, as a change in the law to allow self-isolation to be enforced only went into effect yesterday.
Levins Solicitors from Merseyside confirmed that they are taking action on behalf of students "trapped" in halls.
Jon Heath of the company said it was "a really important principle".
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