Williamson: Universities Shouldn’t Charge Full Fees for Online Teaching

With 20 of the 24 Russell Group universities refusing to end online teaching from September 2021, the value proposition for students has come under yet more pressure from both the media and campaign groups. Why charge students the full £9,250 for a few Zoom calls that could be answered from their parents’ homes?

It looks like Gavin Williamson agrees. Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, the Education Secretary said:

“I think universities have got to sort of stand up their offer to their own students…they are autonomous institutions, I don’t have control over them, but we would expect universities to deliver a high-quality teaching experience.”

Pushed on whether that meant offering refunds to those who don’t receive that “high quality teaching experience”, Williamson added:

“We’ve got the Office for Students which is targeting universities which have low quality courses which aren’t doing enough…if universities are not delivering what students expect, then actually they shouldn’t be charging the full fees for what they’ve done.”

“Shouldn’t” isn’t the same as “won’t” or “can’t”. As Williamson was keen to point out, the universities are autonomous after all…

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