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NUS responds to The Times article "Underperforming universities should be allowed to fail"
“We are all working through an exceptional set of circumstances and urge government to respond positively and proactively to students and the university sector’s plea for support. This must come without risking the diversity of our education sector.
"The author disparages universities that offer vocational courses – forgetting that students stepping up to the frontline of the NHS to work have been trained on them. They are not intolerant – and neither are those who are forced to defend their own right to exist on campuses again and again. The same attacks on safe spaces are getting tired: the Joint Committee on Human Rights even ruled that there was no problem with freedom of speech and students’ unions in 2017.
"The author also says that moving their provision online due to Coronavirus shows how universities can get used to tightening their belts. In NUS’ Coronavirus and Students Survey, 33% of students were identified as at critical risk of losing their education, through lack of access to or lack of good quality teaching. Some groups of students will always feel this harder than others, with disabled students not having the adjustments put in place that allows them to engage with online learning.
"We do also need to see discussion of students in the ‘bailout’ proposals that come from government. Students are the future workforce that will help rebuild our economy over the coming years: a student safety net that gives students the choice of a redo, reimbursement or write-off of their courses is crucial in supporting the revival of the economy. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted, once again, why in the long term our education system needs a complete reworking to become one that it is free to all, life-long and accessible."