The recent news that Manchester universities will suspend most face-to-face teaching due to coronavirus concerns has raised even more questions about tuition fees.
Can the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University justify fees of £9250 and more for fewer and fewer contact hours?
Well, at an SU ’town hall’ style event earlier this week, Manchester University’s Senior Leadership Team were quizzed on everything from coronavirus to student mental health.
And when asked how the University could justify keeping fees at the current level, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, UoM’s Vice-Chancellor, said the cost of online learning was “significantly higher, a lot higher”.
“There have been all sorts of things put in place: new platforms, new equipment, stuff we’re doing both face to face and online, and then, of course, we’ve had massive costs which we’ll just have to absorb as a result of Covid-19,” she said.
Rothwell added: “The fee we receive in many cases doesn’t meet the cost of delivering an education, but we’re very sensitive to the fact that we need to be able to justify that [students] get the outcomes that they want.“
Patrick Hackett, the University’s Registrar, added that studying at university was not a “transactional relationship”.
Hackett added: “Ultimately, as a student, you are paying to have the opportunity to study for a degree that serves you well for the rest of your life.
“The real measure of value is whether ultimately you achieve those learning outcomes and whether they helped you in your future career.”
Rothwell also said the University was in “absolutely unprecedented” times due to the pandemic.
She said Covid cases were high among students, and particularly in halls of residence.
“We are hearing of high infection rates in Manchester, and among students in the university,” she said.
“We are meeting very regularly with local public health and they’re advising us on the actions we should take to ensure as much as we possibly can do the safety and wellbeing of our students.”
Watch the full video of the SU’s Town Hall with Nancy Rothwell, alongside other members of UoM’s senior leadership team, here.