I recognise the frustration students will be feeling at the many issues they face as a result of this pandemic. These are uncertain times, and the measures that have been introduced to save lives have disrupted our normal way of life.
The Government has been clear that delivering teaching virtually does not constitute closure, so it has been up to each university to decide whether to waive tuition fees. The Office for Students (OfS) have been clear that quality must be maintained, and their conditions of registration relating to quality and consumer protection have remained in place throughout the pandemic. I would encourage any student who believes these standards are not being met to follow the appropriate complaints procedure, information about which can be found on the OfS website.
In addition, many students have had difficulties with universities or landlords regarding rent for unused student accommodation. Accommodation providers have been encouraged to consider the fairness of their arrangements, and to clearly communicate their policies to students.
I have raised this issue with the universities Minister who has been pressuring more universities to waive rents and obligations.
Regulatory guidance from the OfS has also noted that students are likely to require increased pastoral support and resources to support their wellbeing, and made clear the expectation that universities should take steps to put in place equivalent alternative arrangements for such support for all students. I am pleased that many universities stepped up admirably, and that the OfS has facilitated a sharing of mental health support best practice during these difficult times.