The University’s 10K Deferment Policy is Leaving Existing Students in the Dust

A Leeds Student Group Opinion Round-up 

At the beginning of last month following A-Level results day, the University of Leeds announced that it would offer students on oversubscribed courses £10,000 in cash and a year’s funded university accommodation if they deferred their first year. 

While the offer would apply only to select courses in the law and business schools, many current students have been left feeling rightly disgruntled. 

The decision comes after a record number of students achieved top grades following the second year of covid-era teacher assessed grades. With 12,945 students achieving 3 A* grades – 4 times as many as before the pandemic – universities have found many of their courses oversubscribed. 

Not only has this reignited the annual debate about grade inflation, but it has left many second and third year students unsatisfied with their own treatment at the hands of the university throughout the pandemic. On the university’s well known facebook community, Leeds Student Group, many students were quick to impart their irritation.

“‘Sorry we can’t afford lecturers’ pensions. Sorry we can’t afford tuition fee refunds. Sorry we can’t afford more mental health support. Oh but here’s 10k if you want to defer!’” Student Jake Moran wrote. A sentiment it appears that many of the students who have weathered university life throughout the crisis share. It seems to many that the sacrifices made by the current student community have been both forgotten and left uncompensated. In the wake of lecturer strikes in 2019 many students have been stripped of nearly all normal experiences of academic university life. 

“Now I understand where the £1,000 they charged us to go on placement is going” one quick-witted response read, as others on the page tried to fathom how the university had allowed so many courses to become oversubscribed in the second year of the pandemic. Many assumed that the first year of teacher-assigned A-level grades in 2020 would have been a useful caution. It is hard not to wonder if the effects of the pandemic on university places will be felt for a few years to come as students encouraged to defer this year will move to take up spaces in the autumn of 2022.

With Gavin Williamson’s announcement last month that it would be unreasonable for universities to continue teaching online this semester without compensating students, returning second and third years can cautiously hope for some sort of return normality. But for the graduates of 2021, all hope of a ‘normal’ University experience is now and forever out of their grasp…. as is a bountiful 10K reimbursement…

Image credit: Leeds University Business School

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