Today (Monday 4 May), the Department for Education has announced a package of measures to stabilise university admissions, protecting the sector and students from the impacts of coronavirus.
These include temporary student number controls, bringing forward tuition fee payments and research funding, alongside a revised clearing process.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
We are committed to supporting our world class universities and students through this unprecedented challenging time. So we are putting measures in place to help protect students and staff from the impact of coronavirus.
I know this is an unsettling time for all involved, and we are working tirelessly with the sector to do everything we can to stabilise admissions and protect a vital part of our country’s economy and society.
I am very grateful to universities for their innovation and dedication in their frontline response at this time.
The BBC and Times stories both refer to comments made by the Universities Minister during a call with journalists, where she was asked about the subject of tuition fees. The coverage says that university students in England will have to pay the full amount even if their courses are taught online in the academic year 2020/21, but does not make clear the important caveats expressed by the Minister in her response.
This includes how these arrangements are currently speculative and no decision has been made by the Government at this stage regarding social distancing measures, which will impact on this way of learning. Full tuition fees would only be expected where online courses are of good quality, fit for purpose and help students progress toward their qualification. Conversely, if the quality is not comparable, students may have an opportunity of being reimbursed and there are processes in place for them in that instance.
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said:
To be clear, we only expect full tuition fees to be charged if online courses are of good quality, fit for purpose & help students progress towards their qualification. If universities want to charge full fees they will have to ensure that the quality is there.