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Student Group Claim: High Court battle against UCL begins as university students seek compensation

More than 100,000 students are trying to take their universities to court over the disruption to their studies during the pandemic and strike action.

One of them is Amber Maywood, from Tunbridge Wells, who attended the University of Leeds but only received around five months of in-person learning throughout her three year course.

The philosophy, psychology and scientific thought graduate said her education was also affected by strike action as well as the pandemic which forced teaching to go online.

Yet even when Covid restrictions were lifted and in-person learning could return, she said her classes were still held online and she was not given a reason as to why.

“It is just the fact there has been no acknowledgment at all,” Amber added. “If we wanted an online degree we would have signed up for one.

“We were still paying the normal price, during the strikes we were still paying the normal price even though staff were withdrawing their labour and that learning was not coming to us.”

The 22-year-old said she believes her learning was affected by being solely online. She added: “I think all learning is going to be hindered when you are just getting a power point and quite often you did not even see your lecturer.

“You are just being read to off a slide. It is not the learning you are expecting and there has been no recognition of it.

Amber Maywood is seeking compensation after her studies were disrupted
Amber Maywood is seeking compensation after her studies were disrupted

“It is unfair that students did not receive the learning they were paying for, we have been pushed aside.

“I look back at the last three years almost a bit regretful. I was fortunate to have a really good group of friends and I tried to make the most of it.

“But we were not getting the service we paid for and when you are paying that much it should be addressed and we should get compensation.”

Today, thousands of students seeking compensation for the disruption in their learning due to the pandemic and strikes are taking their battle to the High Court.

A judge will decided whether the first case, against the University College London (UCL), can be dealt with in court.

Hundreds of students have gathered outside the building this morning to tell their stories and await the result which they hope will set a precedent to bring similar claims against other universities.

Amber said altough she understands why her first year of university was affected by Covid, it is the years after when restrictions were lifted that she would like to see some compensation for.

She added: “Today is the massive turning point . It is more than getting something back, I think it is the recognition we did not get the service we paid for. You cannot really put a price on education but at least one year of tuition fees would be a dream.”

UCL is insisting that students must first complain to the facility itself before being allowed access to the courts but the claimants argue that they are unlikely to receive compensation by going through this complaints procedure.

More than 100,000 people have joined the Student Group Claim after paying between £9,250 and £40,000 a year for lessons that were either cancelled or moved online.

The legal team is arguing the universities breached their contract with students by failing to provide in-person tuition and access to facilities they paid for.

Solicitors have sent letters of claim to 18 universities seeking damages including UCL, LSE, King’s College, London, and the Universities of Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Warwick and Cardiff.

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