This photo used to be one of my favourites. It’s my son Kai and I, just over three years ago, on our way to his university interview. We were both incredibly excited, so full of hope for Kai’s future. Now looking at it makes me incredibly sad.
Kai is almost at the end of his time at uni and the onset of COVID has had an enormous impact on his course, Media Productions, a practical degree which doesn’t and hasn’t transferred well to online learning.
Without access to the university studio and the specialist equipment and being able to work in groups Kai is set to leave uni in three months with no portfolio and virtually no hope of breaking into the industry he is so passionate about. Despite this there is no chance of a refund on the £9000 fees he has paid each year. The government has given no direct financial aid to universities or students in England. The parliamentary debate on 16th November resulted in the government stating students had to contact their universities if they wanted a refund and so far, according to The Tab, only 1.6% of students who have tried to claim a refund have received a small sum. (As there were lecturer strikes at the beginning of 2020 in Kai’s second year there has been no face-to-face teaching for over 12 months now).
The course fees aren’t the only debts students accumulate. There is the cost of accommodation. Most students have been told not to return to campus under Gavin Williamson has unveiled a roadmap for a staggered return. Some accommodation providers are offering a partial refund but there is not official guidelines although this is something Boris Johnson as said he will ‘look at’.
So what about the students on practical courses who are leaving uni without the experience they signed up for and no prospects without portfolios?
The future is grim.
Here I chat to Kai a little further about the challenges he has faced in the past year. Apologies for the quality in some parts – but do give it a watch and if you’re a student, a parent or any one with constructive advice, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Perhaps it is time for the National Union of Students to stand up for their members and take the Universities to court for not supplying what they promised to supply. There must be some law students out there that have the legal knowledge to do this, if they won then it would make their names.
I really wish someone would do something I feel so helpless right now.
This pandemic is hitting the young much more than most people realise, from the little ones at nurseries to the students and post grads. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
It really is. Thanks for reading Drew.
I really feel for students. My older daughter is due to finish this year and like your son has had no face to face teaching for about a year now. Her graduation has already been cancelled. My younger is in second year and did have a few in person lectures last term but all online now. She has a place for a year abroad starting in September but who knows if that will happen. I feel sad that they’ve not had the uni experience that they should and will be graduating into a very difficult employment market. My two live at home and we don’t have fees in Scotland so we are fortunate that way. Dreadful for all those like your son who now have debt for something they didn’t even receive properly.