International student officers have appealed to the UK government to compensate international students that were confined to remote learning for nearly a year.
Twelve Russell Group Student Unions jointly formed an online petition to urge the government to recognise the challenges international students faced and to compensate on tuition fees.
Jian Feng, 20, international student executive officer for Leeds University Union said: “Most of our international students did not even get the chance to go to the UK to study.
“We talked to our own universities and they said that they definitely don’t have enough money to refund students and that’s why we have to ask the government to support us.”
In an official letter sent to the Russell Group Organisation, the student officers explained how international students lacked access to learning facilities, lost the “study-abroad experience” and incurred unavoidable costs on travel and accommodation.
Eva Jaseem, 21, an international student at the University of Sheffield from Malaysia, said: “The fact that I’m paying the same amount while I’m just at home just pains me, I’m not getting the same experiences. It’s just added pressure and stress.
“The government should take into consideration the special circumstance of these two years and subsidise our fees because it’s not like one person is facing the burden, everybody feels like they’re missing out on the experience.”
Despite many universities having issued the Hardship Fund, its strict criteria make it difficult for a lot of students to benefit from it.
Mr Feng, who is Chinese, said: “Most of us still can’t get anything back which is still really unfair.
“The study-abroad experience, that’s something money can’t really measure.
“Don’t stay away from the responsibility. The university, clearly, cannot handle everything by themselves.
“The young generation, we are the future of the whole world and we deserve more respect and more care from the government especially now that we are paying so much money every year.”
Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group, said in response to the letter: “We recognise that this is an extremely challenging time for international students.
“Our universities will continue to work with their student bodies to ensure they are providing students with the most effective and appropriate support.”
The online petition received 23,000 signatures so far. Click here to sign.