Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, the University will be teaching through a mix of material prepared in advance and live. Beyond teaching, a number of aspects of student life will also continue to be affected. On this page, you can find information about your rights and possible next steps.
Based on available guidance from the market regulator for higher education in England (the Office for Students), there are four main principles that affect your eligibility for financial compensation:
- Clear communication, i.e. all universities must inform you of significant changes from the course as originally advertised
- Consent, i.e. did you agree to any significant changes to your course, and were you informed about your options if you did not agree to them?
- Complaints cannot be made on the basis of academic judgements – this includes the quality of academic provision
- Universities must act within what can be reasonably expected of them, and this should be understood in the context of having several months to prepare for changes to teaching this year.
Although you cannot make a complaint on the basis of academic judgement, you can on the basis of whether or not something is being delivered. These can include one or more of:
- Delivery of taught content
- Access to services
- Availability of resources (such as IT or books)
- Academic or wellbeing support
The University has stated that it will not reduce tuition fees, however all Universities have a responsibility to compensate students if aspects of your course cannot be delivered. Whilst the University have stated that refunds will not be offered, you can seek compensation via the complaints process.
If you currently receive adjustments or are eligible to on the basis of disability, neurodiversity, and/or health, you remain entitled to appropriate adjustments to support you. In many circumstances, the University is legally required to implement reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act.
If you are currently not receiving adjustments that have been agreed, we recommend contacting us.
What to do
If you're concerned about the quality of your course or access to services/resources, we recommend that you speak to your Course Rep and ask that your feedback is raised at their next available meeting. For group concerns, the Students' Union can also escalate this higher within the University if necessary.
If you wish to pursue making a complaint, you should start by raising your concerns with a relevant member of staff. If that does not lead to a satisfactory outcome, you can formalise your complaint to take it further with the University – you can find advice about this process here or email us.
Remember, you cannot be compensated on the basis of academic judgement
All Universities are expected to make a 'student protection plan' that sets out how the University will approach possible disruption to teaching – you can view Surrey's here.
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) has the power to overturn University decisions in relation to a complaint and are the final stage of the complaints process. Their approach to complaints arising from the effects of COVID-19 can be found here. Please note that you can only make an appeal to the OIA having exhausted the University's complaints process first.
The market regulator (the Office for Students) has compiled this student guide to COVID-19.