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24th November 2022

Students seek compensation over “contract breaches” during lockdown

1022 UoM students have joined a group launching legal action against several universities claiming a breach of contract over online teaching during Covid
Students seek compensation over “contract breaches” during lockdown
Fences around Fallowfield as a lockdown ‘security measure’. Photo: The Mancunion

Over 1000 students from the University of Manchester have joined a claim arguing that the University breached its contract by failing to provide in-person teaching and appropriate support to facilitate their learning during lockdown.

The 1022 students, who attended the University in the years 2017-2022, are claiming that the quality of teaching delivered during this periods was inadequate. This, they claim, has severely hindered both their academic experience and the start to their careers.

They have joined a multi-million-pound group claim that spans several universities and nearly 20,000 students. The group includes students from University College London, London School of Economics, and the Universities of Leeds, Birmingham, and Cardiff.

They claim that students were disrupted by both strike action and Covid-19, and that the University was contractually obliged to provide in-person support. Even when all lockdown measures had been removed,  some courses continued with online learning.

Medical student Layla Zohar explained how her first year learning was limited in this way by Covid-19, saying: “There were parts of the physical examinations we weren’t allowed to do, and still aren’t actually.”

These physical examination included “anything to do with the face/head/mouth” and Zohar claimed “we [the students] couldn’t go on hospital placements in the first semester last year, which this year’s first years have been able to do”.

Many universities have faced similar backlash for their handling of teaching during the pandemic.

Earlier this year, Durham University’s largest donor, Mark Hillery, withdrew his funding over disagreement with Durham’s use of unnecessary Covid restrictions to learning.

Discontent with the handling of the pandemic by the University of Manchester has not only been expressed by these recent claims.

The University made headlines in November 2020 over protests in Owens Park following the placement of fences around the halls of residence. 

The University of Manchester has declined to comment, but passed us onto Universities UK. Their statement is as follows:

“The Covid-19 pandemic threw two years of unprecedented challenge at the higher education sector and our students, and we are proud of how universities adapted and managed in adverse circumstances.

“During some periods of lockdown, universities were not permitted to offer teaching and learning as usual and instead universities adjusted quickly and creatively to ensure students could learn and graduate.

“We are not able to comment on individual institutions or cases. Universities continually look to improve, and raise standards if students are not getting the learning opportunities they deserve.”

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