Online university during pandemic sparks surge in complaints from students unhappy to learn

Online university tuition fees during the Covid pandemic spark a rise in complaints as students say they were unhappy with their ‘learning experiences’ and some struggled with technology during the exams

  • Many say ‘blended learning’ is better for students because they can review lessons
  • Data shows OIA received 2,763 student complaints in 2021, up 6%
  • They said some students found they weren’t getting ‘the learning they expected’

Remote Classes during the pandemic have prompted a record number of complaints against universities, the figures reveal.

It comes as some universities still insist on continuing online classes, despite growing student anger.

Many argue that ‘blended’ learning – a mix of face-to-face and online – is better for students because it allows them to review lessons.

But data from the Office of the Independent Higher Education Adjudicator (OIA) tells a different story.

The body received 2,763 complaints from students in 2021, up 6% from 2020 levels and 17% more than in 2019.

The OIA said “some students found they were not getting the learning experiences they reasonably expected”, affected by “the cumulative impact of the pandemic and industry action”.

He also revealed that some students had struggled with technology, “particularly during online timed exams”.

Distance learning during the pandemic has prompted a record number of complaints against universities, figures from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education reveal (file photo)

A number struggled to get the technology to work, while for others poor typing skills had affected their performance.

The overall financial compensation awarded to students in 2021 was £1,304,379, “significantly higher than in previous years”.

The largest single payment was just over £68,000, while 63 students received over £5,000.

The proportion of complaints related to the pandemic has increased since 2020, to 37% of complaints, compared to 12% in 2020.

In total, 27% of complaints were considered “justified”.

The government has pledged to crack down on remote learning this summer.

Yesterday, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: ‘I have been very clear that students deserve quality, transparency and value.

Students deserve fair treatment and it is good to see this process working with compensation payments rising to over £1.3million and more complaints confirmed than ever before.


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