Rebates and refunds due to COVID-19

You will have seen in the media, and over social media, that there is currently much discussion about, and calls for, rebates for accommodation rent, tuition fees and gym membership refunds. The University’s position is below:

Accommodation rebate

It is important that our response is consistent with Government advice, and is fair to all our students, who live in very different accommodation settings with varying contractual agreements. 

We were the first UK University to offer a range of flexible accommodation contracts at the start of the academic year and we now wish to make the following commitments:  

  • We will lobby Universities UK (UUK) and Government to ensure that there is a fair outcome for all students and universities who have been financially impacted by the recent lockdown.
  • Accommodation rebates will be provided to students living in our own halls of residence. The exact amount of this rebate will be calculated in March, once it is possible to assess the full impact of the current national lockdown.
  • The rebate will be available upon request to all students in University-owned accommodation studying non-exempted courses and who have not made any use of their accommodation since the commencement of the national lockdown.
  • The rebates will be processed in the April rent payment instalment.
  • We will work with our Students’ Union to lobby private accommodation providers and landlords to offer comparable levels of rent rebate.
  • Our COVID hardship fund is available to be accessed by students struggling to make ends meet during this time of national crisis.

Tuition fee refunds

This is a national issue and not one that the University can resolve in isolation. 

We are:

  • working with UUK and are waiting for Government guidance on this matter.
  • writing to Government in a joint letter with our Students’ Union about this issue. 

Government advice to date has been that universities should continue to charge the normal fee levels, because we are continuing to provide an education leading to degree level outcomes that support future employment opportunities.

As we wait for any further guidance, our focus remains on providing you with the best education and student experience we can during this very challenging time.

Our ignite teaching method was developed specifically to offer a blend of online and in-person delivery, enabling us to be agile and responsive to changing circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout our planning and delivery of ignite, our priority has been the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and students, and to safeguard our local community and the country to the best of our ability.

We have undertaken extensive work to develop new teaching materials and approaches, enhance specific support services and to adapt the delivery of all of our services to meet the many difficulties and challenges the pandemic has caused. We have also put in place measures to try to maintain as much of the wider student experience as possible, whilst maintaining our focus on keeping students safe. You can find more detail on additional costs. Throughout this academic year to date, our approach has kept the COVID-19 infection rate in our University community very low.

During the first term of the 2020/21 academic year, we provided as much in-person teaching as safety allowed. However, it was not possible to deliver as much in-person teaching as we had hoped, because of the changing COVID-19 safety considerations, the national lockdown in November 2020 and the Government’s end-of-term guidelines in December. In all cases, the ignite approach has meant in-person teaching was replaced with comprehensive, planned and prepared online teaching, so our students continued to receive a high quality education in a world-leading research intensive university. We are keen to learn from the experiences of our students and enhance our online provision this term and into the future. Throughout this evaluation, we will consult with our Students’ Union and update you on our findings. 

We will continue this flexible approach through the rest of the current academic year, ensuring that we adhere to Government guidance at all times, to ensure educational continuity for all of our students and that you are all able to receive your progression and award decisions on time.

We are very conscious that this is a very challenging time for our students, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted your studies in many ways.  This is why we are working on an Educational Safeguard to help support the progression and outcomes of all of our students.

Gym membership refunds

We are very conscious that the University sports centres have undergone a number of closure periods this academic year. Gym memberships will be refunded according to the principle that we refund fees proportionate to the length of the closure period incurred.  

Information on how refunds will be processed can be found on the sports webpages.