With the third national lockdown in place in the United Kingdom, the majority of students are now being told to stay at home. Across the country students have been mobilising to ask for refunds on their courses and their housing. The National Union of Students is currently running a campaign called #StudentsDeserveBetter to highlight the treatment of students by the Government. The University has now declared a major disruption has occured.
We recognise that it has not been an easy academic year and have been working with the University of Greenwich to try and improve the quality and standards of online teaching and ensure every student gets the degree they deserve.
However, if you are dissatisfied and are looking to make a formal complaint about your course or need advice on how to save money or get a refund on your accommodation, this article outlines the steps you can take.
You may find that your landlord or your University of Greenwich is able to offer you some form of flexibility in relation to your rent if you are unable to live at your property.
Please see the section based on your particular situation depending who you rent your property/room with:
- University of Greenwich Halls: The university has a 'coronavirus break clause' which you may be able to activate. View the details here so you clearly understand the procedures and what you need to do if this affects you.
"If the university becomes a completely virtual campus, you will not be required to pay for halls - provided keys are returned and your room is vacated during this period. We will hold your room exclusively for your return. If this occurs after 1 May, you will have the option to terminate permanently and clear your room."
- Private rented accommodation: If you rent via any other landlord then obtaining some form of rent reduction is likely to be very difficult, but that's not to say it will be impossible.
- View the Shelter guidance on trying to negotiate with your landlord here and
- if you have a fixed term Assured Shorthold Tenancy (which most students tend to have) then be aware of the limited rights you have to end that contract early here.
- Some external student accommodation providers such as Unite have made changes to their rent, so always check their website and search your emails including your spam/junk folders in case you missed the information.
- Your landlord may be able to take a mortgage holiday, it is worth having a conversation with them with this in mind.
- Private Housing Bursary: We know that students who are privately renting are really struggling with their finances due to this issue. Please be aware that there is support and that you can apply to for a one-off payment of £1000. For further details please see here Private Housing Bursary 2020-21 | Bursaries | University of Greenwich
When you go to University you have a contract between yourself and the University and it outlines what they should be offering in exchange for your tuition fees.
The transaction is covered under the consumer rights law, section 56.
You will need to submit a complaint to the University. Here at Greenwich, if you're dissatisfied with how your programme is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can use the University Major disruption complaints procedure.
In this procedure they recommend you contact your Faculty at the first instance to notify them of a concern you would like to raise before beginning the formal resolution procedure (submitting your complaint and the University providing you with an outcome).
For more guidance on submitting a complaint, you can find help and support on our webpage, which includes a step by step guide.
If you are still not satisfied with the response from your complaint, then you can make a formal complaint. Office Of The Independent Adjudicator: oiahe.org.uk.
Complaints with regards to your course will always take time as they are checked on a case-by-case basis, so please ensure that you keep an eye on communication and have patience for the outcome.
What else can I do?
Lobby the University or Students' Union to create change. If you think the terms of the University's accommodation break clause doesn't cater to your needs or you're having other issues that aren't outlined on their website, then you can get in touch with them directly. As your Students' Union we can represent the voice of students to the University.
Seek advice and support from the GSU Advice Service. We have an independent and professional team as we are a not-for-profit organisation that is separate to the University of Greenwich. Please head to our Advice webpage for further information and head to our contact form. greenwichsu.co.uk/advice
Talk to a Students' Union Officer about your issues as they are keeping a log of complaints or bring your issue to Student Assembly.
For more information on COVID-19 please check out infomation page.