Universities minister says students should get tuition fee refunds

Universities minister says overpaid vice-chancellors on ‘eye-watering and staggering’ salaries should give students refunds on their tuition fees

  • Michelle Donelan said students to apply for refunds if they are ‘unsatisfied’
  • Universities Minister said undergraduates were ‘at the end of the day consumers’
  • She also criticised high vice-chancellor salaries and ‘mickey mouse’ courses
  • Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said ‘there are no excuses’ for cancelling face-to-face teaching

The Universities Minister has encouraged students to apply for refunds on courses if they are unsatisfied.

Michelle Donelan said students should ‘absolutely’ demand to claim back their tuition fees, adding that ‘they are consumers, at the end of the day’.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Ms Donelan said there had been ‘tens of thousands’ of refunds issued to students by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator during the pandemic. 

‘They’re paying a substantial amount of money that’s an investment in their own lives. They deserve that appeal right.’

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said there had been ‘tens of thousands’ of refunds issued to students by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator during the pandemic

The 37-year-old also criticised universities that have not returned to face-face-face learning, high vice-chancellor salaries and ‘mickey mouse’ courses.

Figures show three vice chancellors are on more than half a million pounds a year, with Exeter’s Sir Steve Smith raking in £584,000 – more than triple the Prime Minister’s salary.

‘I have had to really say to vice-chancellors, you need to ensure that you are delivering on what you promised to students because, as the Prime Minister outlined, we’ve got to learn to live with this virus now.

‘We’ve got to get back to pre-pandemic life. Risk assessments can’t be used as an excuse not to host face-to-face teaching. Students have been leading the way in the [vaccination] stats.’

Her boss, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, said recently that universities have no excuse for cancelling face-to-face teaching and students should complain to the watchdog if they feel short-changed 

Ms Donelan said she would not defend some vice-chancellor salaries, which she called ‘eye-watering and staggering’, and said drop-out rates for some courses were as high as 40 per cent.

‘Universities try to entice pupils to the front door and say that’s social mobility. Actually, that doesn’t help anybody,’ she said.

Ms Donelan was promoted to Minister for Higher and Further Education in February’s cabinet reshuffle, and describes it as her ‘dream’ job.

Her boss, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, said recently that universities have no excuse for cancelling face-to-face teaching and students should complain to the watchdog if they feel short-changed.

Mr Zahawi said he has an ‘expectation’ for universities to ‘deliver face-to-face education’ as it emerged more than 100 institutions have also moved their lectures online. 

He told The Sunday Times last week: ‘I want to repeat that my expectation of universities is that they deliver face-to-face education.

‘They need to deliver it and if students feel they are not getting value for money they should take that up with the Office for Students.’

MailOnline have approached Universities UK for comment about Ms Donelan’s interview.

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