Students Affected By Strikes Or The Pandemic Could Claim £5,000 Compensation
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Nearly 20,000 students in the UK have launched a multi-million-pound group legal action against UK universities, over disruption and lost learning due to strikes and the Covid pandemic.
If successful, it’s estimated that students who were at university during the pandemic could be awarded around £5,000 compensation each, with international students in line to receive even more.
There is the potential for millions of students and graduates to join the Student Group Claim, meaning universities could potentially have to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds if the suit is successful.
Under the current fee structure, UK students pay £9,250 per year for undergraduate degrees, with Master’s and international students often paying far more.
As is the case for any customers, Student Group Claim is arguing that students deserve compensation ‘when they received substantially less valuable services than those for which they paid’.
It says: “No other service provider would get away with cancelling a service or replacing it with a lower-value substitute without offering a price reduction.”
The group says universities were contracted to provide in-person tuition as well as access to facilities and services in exchange for fees, and that the institutions have failed to deliver on their side of the bargain.
The group claim argues that ‘from 2018 to 2022 there was a material difference between what students paid for and what they actually received’ with significant changes and cancellations, due to uni staff strikes and coronavirus.
It adds that universities have mostly failed to offer students financial compensation for this, despite doing well financially during the period of the pandemic.
“Students’ losses - the disruption to their courses and access to facilities - should fall on the shoulders of the universities, which can afford to bear that burden, rather than falling upon students who cannot”, the group says.
Student Group Claim members have now teamed up with solicitors to help them claim fair compensation via no win, no fee group court claims.
Ryan Dunleavy, partner at Harcus Parker and solicitor to Student Group Claim, said: “These universities are often huge, wealthy institutions that pushed the financial impact and burden of Covid and of their own staff striking onto their customers, the students. Unlike the universities, a significant number of which increased their income over the pandemic period, those students largely survived on limited financial means and loans.
“Despite this, universities generally took few steps to compensate students for the subpar services they delivered in these periods. The Student Group Claim helps readdress the power and financial imbalance between the parties by giving the students the opportunity to bring a claim collectively, rather than as individuals.”
Shimon Goldwater, partner at Asserson and solicitor to Student Group Claim, said: “When you pay for a service, if you did not receive what you paid for, you deserve compensation. Universities promised students in-person tuition and access to facilities and other services in return for substantial fees. During strike action and the pandemic they failed to provide this but still expected to be paid in full.
“Students have often taken out substantial loans to pay for a package of education and experiences which they did not receive. Working with Harcus Parker we want to ensure students get fair compensation for the disruption to their academic lives and their ruined university experience.”
Letters before claim have already been sent to 18 unis, seeking damages on behalf of their current and former students. These are:
Uni of Birmingham
Uni of Bristol
City, Uni of London
Uni of Leeds
Uni of Liverpool
Uni of Manchester
Uni of Nottingham
Queen Mary, London
Uni of Sheffield
Uni of Warwick
In February next year, the High Court will decide whether to allow the 3,500 UCL claimants to bring their claims together against UCL, as a group. If this is successful, similar orders are likely to be made for the other student groups for litigation against their respective universities.
To find out more, you can visit the Student Group Claim website.
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