Students shouldn't pay tuition fees next year – the government should
The Covid-19 crisis has put universities in an impossible position: on the one hand, they need students to enrol in order to keep the doors open, staff paid and the nation’s research infrastructure going. On the other, no one knows what September will look like when students arrive back on campus.
As Universities UK’s latest proposals outline, many universities will endeavour to open, possibly by introducing small “social bubbles”. Meanwhile, online and blended learning will be developed rapidly to give students a supposedly “world-class” experience.
But students, when asked, say they rather wait for a full university experience. That does not simply include access to lectures, but the social life of living in halls and going to pubs.
And will social bubble measures work? We need only look at any public park today to see how many young people are likely to follow this guidance. Some will follow to the letter, while others might bend the rules.
It is simply implausible that face to face teaching will not be considerably disrupted when any case of Covid-19 will necessitate entire seminars, modules, social bubbles and dorms to self-isolate for two weeks at a time. There will be rolling “local lockdowns” affecting different groups at different rates, with no track or trace infrastructure in place. September will be simply too soon, especially when universities are also expected to provide gold standard, full-fee’s worth online instruction.
Ultimately, Universities UK’s solution to this impossible dilemma is simple: promise the impossible and hope for the best ...
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