We are on your side.

Lobbying for your University experience during COVID-19.

Last updated: 13 April 2021

We have now heard that the remaining students will not be able to return to face to face learning until 17th May at the earliest. This is hugely disappointing news for many and ignores the lobbying of students, Unions and Universities over the past months. 

The Government's continued lack of response and respect for students has been appalling. There has been no additional support put in place for all students, students are still expected to pay their full tuition fees for an experience they don’t want and their full rent for accommodation they can’t use. The University is working hard to support students as best they can, but we know they do not have the resources to properly support students and give refunds for tuition fees or accommodation. We also know many private landlords rely on rental income to get by - not all are multimillionaires or large companies.  

The Government must act now to support students across the country. They must legislate to allow students to break accommodation contracts and if necessary, support private landlords. They must also reduce tuition fees for this academic year and recognise students are not getting the service they have paid for, and they must stop passing the buck to universities. Finally, they must increase funding to universities so that they can meet the challenges of needing to offer the best online experience possible and support students learning & wellbeing at this difficult time.

Tuition Fee Refunds

We are lobbying the government for a refund of tuition fees, standing alongside other SUs nationally. We are doing this on behalf of all the students who have faced unprecedented disruption to their education, which has also seen them having limited or no access to vital facilities, a lack of teaching, and missing out on important experiences, which were promised to students. 

We are taking this stand because we believe it is not possible for individual Universities to be expected to refund the sums of money due to students on mass, and the only way this can be done is through the government.   

What we're doing:

Open Letters

  1. Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP and the Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson | Subject: Supporting Higher Education Students and their Institutions. (No response as of April 13)
  2. Letter to Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) | Subject: Clarifying the position of students' consumer rights. (No response as of April 13)
  • We are writing to local MPs for their support and to ask them to raise the issue in Parliament. 
  • We are joining SUs across the UK to directly lobby the government around the issues of tuition fee and accommodation refunds.  
  • We are lobbying the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan to take action to address these concerns. 
    • Your Officers met with the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, discussing these concerns raising them with her directly
  • We are providing guidance to students on how to make a complaint to request a fee refund (see the section about Quality and Confidence below).

What we need you to do:

  1. Contact your local MP at your term time and home address using our template emailyou can find your local MP here by typing in your postcode and encourage your parents/guardians to do the same. 
  2. Let us know what your academic experience has been like this year through your Course Rep - if you're unsure who that is, email CourseReps@brighton.ac.uk.

Accommodation Refunds

We have used your feedback to lobby the University and secured a 60% weekly rebate for students who cannot access their University halls. 

Following the latest announcement that the remaining students can’t now return until the year has effectively finished, the University have agreed that students in halls that are not allowed to return can terminate their contract. Alternatively, you can keep your room with a 60% reduction until you can return. 

We continue to do all we can to assist our students in private accommodation to negotiate with their landlords. This is much more challenging but still worth pursuing.   

What we're doing:

  • We have developed resources to assist students in private accommodation to lobby their landlords. 
  • We are working with other SUs nationally to raise the issues encountered by student renters across the country and urging the government to legislate to change the law for the benefit of students.   

Open Letters

  1. Email from your VP Education, Ramy to Lloyd Russel Moyles (Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven MP) | Subject: Housing Refunds (No response as of April 13)

What we need you to do:

No Detriment and widening the safety net

We have been working closely with the University on No Detriment policies since the first lockdown in March 2020. We are really pleased that the University has continued to put in place measures to support students through their assignments and exams. 

Have a look through and understand the latest safety net policy FAQS.

Contact BSU Support Team if you have any questions about the new regulations at bsusupport@brighton.ac.uk

Quality and Confidence

With the introduction of the new blended learning model, we have heard from many of you about your concerns over the quality of your education and difficulties with online teaching. It is important you receive the educational experience you were promised and where you do not feel this is the case, that you seek ways to address this.

What we're doing:

  • We are raising these issues on a weekly basis with the University’s senior management team and in ongoing discussions with Ruth Whittaker the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students). 
  • We have been constantly reviewing the universities No Detriment (known as Safety Net) policy to make sure the university provides you with adequate opportunities to perform to your best abilities. 

What we need you to do:

  1. Feed your concerns to your Course Reps and the Officers who can raise these with the University and your course. If you don’t know who your Course Rep is contact CourseReps@brighton.ac.uk.  
  2. If you feel you are not experiencing the quality promised, you have the right to make a complaint. Read our guide to making a complaint.

What your feedback has helped us do:

  • Develop a new policy for unrepresentative performance 
  • Ensure lectures are recorded 
  • More live teaching 
  • Improve the quality of pre-recorded materials and how you access them 
  • A package of support for the class of 2021 
  • Rent refunds for university accommodation 
  • Digital Access Fund to support broadband and hardware related issues 

Wellbeing

We appreciate the pandemic may amplify existing issues and will impact each student differently that is why your wellbeing remains one of our top priorities. As ever, we continue to raise the equality issues you tell us about, with the University, as well as working to ensure a sense of belonging through a new programme. 

What we're doing:

  • We are contacting each and every student, checking in with them, and asking what more we can do to help. We have currently contacted 97% of students which is over 18,000 students. If you haven’t been contacted yet, you will be in the next few weeks. 
  • We have been supporting students who have been self-isolating by providing books, games and care packages to see them through. 

What we need you to do:

  • Remain connected with one another virtually. 
  • Check out all our societies and consider joining one or starting one up yourself.
  • Tell us about inequalities you experience or witness while at university, and we help you find solutions.  
  • Reach out for support with your mental wellbeing whenever you need it and check out the University’s wellbeing resources.