Lancaster student accuses university of 'scamming' students after paying £9.2k for 'shocking' online lectures
A law student says Lancaster University is 'scamming' students out of their £9.2k annual fees due to poor teaching methods and a lack of support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The student, who did not wish to be named, is a first year undergraduate studying law.
He is living in private accommodation off campus, and said he feels cut off from his fellow students, only able to mix online with some of them in seminars.
Despite joining one of the university colleges, the 19-year-old said nothing has been arranged to help the students feel less isolated.
The student moved to Lancaster in September after feeling assured by the university that his course would operate as normal as possible.
But since then he has mostly been undertaking online study only - and says some of the lectures have been "shocking".
"Due to correspondence from both the university and the government, most students thought it was safe to follow the usual procedure," he said.
"At the beginning of the year we were told it would be online lectures but we didn't know if that would be live or recorded.
"That's OK if the lecturers are doing them well but there are certain lecturers producing shocking lectures which I am very angry I have had to pay for to be honest.
"We are paying £9,200 a year for pre-recorded audio lectures with no slides or engagement whatsoever.
"A lot of people are angry. The student satisfaction group has complained but been told there is no policy that lecturers have to create slides or any interaction."
The teenager said it was also proving difficult to socialise due to renting private accommodation and not having the opportunity to meet fellow students.
"It has been a struggle," he said. "The most common way for students to socialise is going to the pub which obviously isn't possible.
"That's out of the university's hands but I am in a particular dire situation because I am in private accommodation and I don't have any flatmates.
"There are no collegiate events, a lot of the services have been suspended, and mental health support services are very weak.
"In terms of academic work I only interact with a small seminar group
"I know it's difficult in lockdown but we pay £9,200 a year and I feel scammed for the university experience I have had."
The student also said more than 1,300 other students had joined a rent strike after being charged for their campus accommodation despite not being able to stay in it.
A university spokesman said: "We understand that this is a very difficult and challenging time for students and staff are working hard to minimise the impact on them and their studies.
"It is difficult to predict the ultimate impact this pandemic will have had on different programmes at this stage of the year and we are currently undertaking a review of all provision delivered last term.
"We urge the student to contact their college and department so they can help.
"Student and staff safety and wellbeing are the university’s primary concern. For that reason, our approach has been to follow the latest government guidelines, and therefore adapt our blended academic delivery as the situation has changed.
"We have aimed to provide students with flexibility, taking into account the different situations they face, and offer the best academic experience we can by providing face-to-face teaching where possible.
"We have, so far, given back £10m in rent rebates to eligible students with accommodation on campus and are keeping this under review.
"We have invested in Health and Wellbeing services which have been available throughout the pandemic. Lancaster’s counselling, mental health and wellbeing team are providing new services and extra appointment slots to make accessing support easier for students.
"Practitioners make contact with any urgent cases on the same day and now offer new ‘one-off’ appointments bookable a day in advance. Students can also access 24 hour online support.
"College services are free and have remained available throughout the pandemic, both remotely and in-person on campus where possible."
The spokesman also clarified that £52,000 spent on improvements to the new Vice-Chancellor's house on campus were to make it safe and habitable in order to rent it commerically to private tenants.
The university acquired the building in 2019 and the work was done before the current Vice-Chancellor took office. He currently rents the property at full market rent, on a short-term basis.