With schools and universities all currently closed, and a return date uncertain (at the time of writing), the question of how we are going to return is starting to come up. While we’re waiting for government advice on how this might come about, universities have started considering the possibility of starting next academic years' terms entirely online.
An issue however is that universities aren’t considering any sort of reduction in tuition fees because of this, as the BBC has discovered. Understandably students aren’t happy about this and there’s good reason not to be.
Being off campus doesn’t just mean you’re missing your lectures and seminars, it also means you’re not able to utilise all of the facilities that you’re paying for with your tuition fees.
So what are you actually paying for with your fees?
These are the most obvious ones. The fees you pay go into funding your contact hours which most commonly take the form of lectures, seminars and a mixture or other forms of learning depending on the course you’re studying. Science based courses may have you working in a lab as well. Obviously this is something that you wouldn’t get the full experience of in remote working so what you’d be paying for would be greatly different from what you would be paying for in a normal academic year.
One to one with tutors
The group learning environment is one way of learning at university but you can’t forget the one-to-one you have with your lecturers and tutors. These are where you can seek help with assignments, lecture topics and general anxieties you may have about your university life. These can still be going on during remote learning via video and phone meetings with your tutor. With less commute time as well!
The facilities on your campus are included in the tuition fees as well. All universities will have a library where you’re able to access resources and find space to work and revise away from home. These all come with running costs. Part of your fee will go into keeping these facilities open and running. However of course, remote learning would mean the only part of these facilities you could access would be the online resources.
Documentation & Admin work
One of the behind the scene costs this one, but somebody has got to be paid for putting your names and grades through all the university systems. Not to mention getting you that degree certificate at the end of it all. (It doesn’t come on a scroll I’m afraid. I know, I was disappointed too!)
Push are one of the biggest advocate for making sure you make the right decision in your university choices. Both course and location. However we’re aware that not everything will go to plan. That’s fine and happens to a lot of people. Your fees however will help you with this as some will go to the support services at the university such as the mental health and careers support services, so you can always count on someone being there to help you when you need them. These services would be cut, if you’re not on campus, to video calls and email correspondence so this would be another aspect of university life that would be hit if a remote learning environment was used at the start of the next academic year.
ARON TENNANT is the Talks and Editorial manager for Push. He is originally from South Yorkshire and has a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Sheffield. He also has an MA in Creative Play and Screenwriting from City, University of London and came runner up in Nickelodeon's international screenwriting competition in 2018. Alongside Push he does screenplay work for independent production companies and is working on his own independent film projects
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