United Kingdom

‘University was supposed to be a fairytale, but it’s a nightmare’

Next year’s graduates will have lost nearly two of their five days of classes after their education was ravaged by lockdowns and strikes.

A student who started in September 2020 would have lost 25 weeks of face-to-face learning due to the disruption, according to the Intergenerational Foundation, a think tank, based on a typical three-year degree with 22 weeks of teaching per year.

University employees are currently in the middle of a round of strikes, with the next one taking place on November 30.

Students have complained about the experience, leaving them feeling “deprived” and wanting compensation. Between September 2020 and November 2022, approximately 16 days were lost due to strikes by teaching staff. This was on top of a year of remote learning post-lockdown. A 2023 graduate spent the entire first year learning remotely.

Francesca Eke, 21, switched courses in March 2020 after a year just as the pandemic hit, and was not back in a lecture hall until September 2021. performance”.

She added: “I definitely want my money back. The university experience that has been sold to me seems like a fairy tale – it has actually been a nightmare.”

Despite the calls for refunds, universities have instead lobbied to raise tuition fees to the level paid by overseas students, while handing out just £800,000 in refunds to dissatisfied students in 2021.

Liz Emerson, of the Intergenerational Foundation, said students’ interests had been “unrecognized” in disputes over teachers’ pensions and salaries, leading to the latest round of union action.

She added: “This cohort was locked in their hallways, sent home, taught online, brought back, ghosted by their institutions and now again abandoned by teachers. Their mental health has declined dramatically while facing the same cost of living as the rest of us.”

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