We're Here For You.

It is evident that this year at university has been very different, and in many ways quite challenging. With that in mind, we want to assure you that we are here for you at the Students’ Union when it comes to the issues you are facing. We've launched We’re Here For You as a way to provide you updates on the key issues currently facing the student body. You can find information on five key areas listed below, including what we are doing, and what you, as a student, can do to help the situation. We'll, of course, provide you with as much support as we can along the way. If there are issues you would like to raise that aren’t listed here, or if you have any questions, please email President Kate Roberts at president@su.rhul.ac.uk.

Tuition Fees

Why is this a key issue?

University life has changed dramatically over the last 11 months. An argument can be made that students deserve to receive refunds or compensation on their tuition fees this academic year, due to the fundamental difference in experience compared to what was expected. However, it is evident that the Government should foot the bill if refunds are going to be provided, not individual universities. Tuition fee compensation or refunds do make sense on the face of it. However, there are a huge array of nuances and complexities that feed into this debate. We want to give you an understanding of these complexities and provide you with actions you can take around tuition fees.

What we're doing

  • We have written a letter to our local MP, Dr Ben Spencer, to highlight the need for support for students in relation to tuition fees.
  • We have written a letter to the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, to highlight the need for support for students in relation to tuition fees.

Dr Ben Spencer also recently wrote to the Minister of State for Universities about the possibility of an independent mechanism to review the value provided by higher education courses during the pandemic. You can read the response here.

  • We have released a blog on Tuition Fees: The Higher Education Context to help explain some of the complexities of the situation, and provide you with more information.
  • We have provided information on complaints, how you can make a complaint, and what you can complain about. Our Advice Centre can support you if you want to make a complaint.
  • We are engaging in discussions across the sector and supporting campaigns around action on tuition fees, such as the Students United Against Fees campaign.

What you can do

  • Use our email template to write your own letter to your local MP to highlight the need for support for students in relation to tuition fees. You can download the template here.
  • Sign this national petition asking for the Government to take action on student tuition fees.

Accommodation and Rent

Why is this a key issue?

Of the many uncertainties that students are currently facing, one of the more immediate priorities is understandably around your accommodation and your rent. The University have been flexible with their halls accommodation, which you can find updates about below. However, we know that a large part of the student body lives in private housing or private halls in the local area. We have been visibly calling for flexibility here, as students being asked to pay rent for accommodation they are not using is just not fair. There is a lot of support available for you if you are struggling with rent payments.

What we're doing

  • We have held discussions with the University around halls accommodation. The University have provided a rent rebate to all students living in halls for the duration of the lockdown, you can find more information here.
  • President Kate Roberts and Principal Paul Layzell have written a letter to local landlords to call for flexibility for private housing and private Halls. Read the letter here.
  • We have written a letter to our local MP, Dr Ben Spencer, to highlight the need for support for students who are private renters, and increase the Government provision of hardship funding for students.
  • We have launched a Housing Policy Inquiry to ensure that improvements are made by both the University and Students’ Union to improve your housing experience. You can find out more here.

What you can do

  • If you are struggling to pay rent, you can apply to the Study Support Grant. Find out more about applying here.
  • Reach out to our Advice Centre for support on private renting and private halls.
  • Attend one of our Advice Centre Zoom Housing Drop-ins which are run every Wednesday and Thursday, 1:30-3:30pm. You can find details of the next sessions on our events calendar.

No Detriment Policies

Why is this a key issue?

It is no secret that this academic year has been incredibly difficult for many students due to a variety of different reasons relating to the global pandemic. Last academic year, a series of regulations and policies were implemented to ensure that students were not academically disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic. The premise of this remains the same this year with a series of safeguarding measures implemented by the University to prevent academic disadvantage, although they do not, in all cases, adopt the same form as 2019/20.

What we’re doing

  • We have been involved in discussions with the University around the development of a new policy for this academic year. Your school reps and PGT department reps have been involved in these conversations alongside VP Education, Alissa Chohan. You can find out more here.
  • We have provided information on extensions and Extenuating Circumstances, including how you can apply for these and how these are working for students this academic year. Our Advice Centre can support you if you need to apply for an extension or Extenuating Circumstances; along with other academic issues.

What you can do

  • Read the policy carefully to understand how it works for you, including the policies that were enacted last academic year (2019/20) and how these relate to your year of study.
  • Contact your school or department if you have any questions.

Wellbeing

Why is this a key issue?

Understandably, wellbeing has been a significant issue during this difficult period. It is incredibly hard to keep up motivation and routines during these seemingly never-ending lockdowns, where we have little opportunity to socialise and engage with friends and family in the way we would like. University can be a challenging time for wellbeing and mental health, we are very aware that greater support for students is extremely important, and particularly so at the moment. We would very much encourage you to reach out for support when you need it, check on your friends, and keep discussing mental health to open up the conversation and reduce the stigma.

What we’re doing

  • We have set up the Royal Hideaway Facebook group, with weekly challenges for students to get involved in.
  • We are running extra Mental Health Awareness Training sessions. These are open to any student who wants further information on how to support themselves, their peers and their friends on wellbeing related matters. These are being run on 15 February, 24 February and 5 March. You can find details of the sessions on our events calendar.

What you can do

  • If you are facing financial difficulty, you can apply to the Study Support Grant. Find out more about applying here.
  • You should get in touch with the Wellbeing team at the University if you are struggling and would like some extra support. Information on their services can be found here.
  • Get can also get in touch with our Advice Centre for support on a range of different wellbeing concerns.
  • If you are interested in speaking to other students, why not join a student group? A number of our groups are running virtual activities, find out more about our societies and sports clubs on the SU website.
  • Attend one of our Advice Centre Zoom General Drop-ins which are run every Tuesday, 1:30-3:30pm. You can find details of the next sessions on our events calendar.

Academic Quality

Why is this a key issue?

We know that your university experience has been turned upside down this year and we were involved in numerous discussions over the summer about the introduction of the flexible learning model that has been implemented this year, to include face-to-face teaching and online learning where dictated by Government restrictions. The University have put a lot of work into providing the best academic experience possible, but it is clear that you need to ensure that the academic quality you would expect from your course is being upheld.

What we’re doing

  • We have provided information on complaints, how you can make a complaint, and what you can complain about. Our Advice Centre can support you if you want to make a complaint.
  • We have released a blog on Academic Quality: The Higher Education Context to help explain some of the complexities of the situation, and provide you with more information.
  • President Kate Roberts and VP Education Alissa Chohan attend daily Rapid Response meetings with the senior management of the University to raise any concerns as and when they arise.

What you can do

  • Find out who your academic representative is and engage with them on any concerns you may have, and any work they are doing at present.
  • Utilise all of the support that has been made available to you this academic year, ensure you are engaging with as much as possible, and contact your department or academic representative if you feel there is anything missing.
  • Get in touch with our Advice Centre for support on any academic issues.