The pandemic has affected students at all levels. Are lectures held in person at the university? Does coronavirus affect student funding? Do you still have to pay rent at the university?
It seems like the thought of self-isolation was just a dystopian fantasy yesterday.
But it looks like coronavirus will be here for a while. Everything seems to have stalled (oh social life, how much we miss you) and there is great confusion about how the coronavirus is affecting university attendance.
This guide will help you navigate the rent and student finance areas, and offer some tips if you are having financial problems meeting basic needs. Rest assured – we’ll get through this together and come out stronger on the other side. 🙏
The information in this guide is correct as of November 9, 2020. This page is for the latest advice as we will keep it updated.
Coronavirus and student accommodation
Regardless of whether you live in university halls or in private accommodation, you will undoubtedly wonder how the coronavirus is affecting your life at university.
Here is the most important information you need to know, including your rights as a student tenant if you want to (or need to) leave your university accommodation early.
Students in dormitories
There has been a lot of media coverage recently about students in university accommodation.
It’s no secret that students across the country are in pretty difficult situations. Many have to isolate themselves soon after moving into the halls.
If you are currently in university halls, you will not alone be wondering what rights you have as a student tenant and what options you have.
Can you get rent refunds for university accommodation?
If you live in a dormitory, it depends on your university whether you get a rental discount or a break from rent.
As an example of where this has happened, the University of Glasgow Reimbursed students monthly rent in their halls. It did so after 124 students tested positive for coronavirus, causing about 600 to self-isolate.
If your university doesn’t offer you a refund but you think you should be eligible for a refund, it may be worth contacting a representative at your dormitory.
You can bring them a case as to why you think you deserve compensation and if they can’t help, they may be able to refer you to someone who can.
Make sure you know your rights as a tenant. And to bolster your case, collect as much evidence as you can to show why you think you didn’t receive your money.
What happens if you move out of the university halls early?
While universities are under no obligation to waive or refund your rent if you have to leave the halls early, some may choose to do so.
Compared to private individuals, you may have more chances of a rent reduction or early termination, but there are no guarantees.
Amy Hughes, a Senior Housing Expert at Citizens Advice, said:
It is always worth getting in contact with your landlord and negotiating. But realistically, unless they have an obligation to release you, they may not be ready to do so.
If the landlord is the university, they may be more likely to agree to a short-term reduction in rent or an early termination of a contract if you no longer have reason to stay in the halls.
However, it’s early in the academic year and it can be difficult to find alternative dormitories if a student gives up their place but wants to return later.
Students in private accommodation
While it can be tough for students in university halls, getting refunds or early termination contracts can be even more difficult when renting privately.
Privately rented accommodation can include student houses, apartments, and private houses (i.e. those owned by a company rather than your university).
Can you get rental refunds for private accommodation?
Although some landlords can Be generous and forego your rent if you have to move out early. This is very unlikely. You are contractually obliged to cover the rent of your accommodation for as long as stated in your rental agreement.
However, you may be able to terminate the contract early if the agreement contains an interruption clause.
For example, if you’ve signed up for a one-year rental but have a six-month break clause, it means you can cancel the contract at any time after six months – all you have to do is pay the rent for the rental notice period, then you should be fine, move out and stop paying rent.
Can you get a refund for your tuition fees?
A question that a quantity The number of students will ask: Could you get compensation from your university due to the coronavirus pandemic?
There is a possibility that you may be entitled to compensation, but we would like to stress that this is by no means guaranteed.
To start with, the government unfortunately confirmed in May 2020 that even if universities offer online tuition, students are expected to pay full tuition fees – provided that online tuition is up to date.
And in October 2020, University Minister Michelle Donelan built on that and said:
It would be unacceptable for a student who pays these tuition fees and doesn’t get this quality or doesn’t get this support.
If you feel that the support or quality of education at your university is not up to date, this is one line of reasoning that you could use when making a claim for compensation.
Overall, it is important to think carefully about what you were offered when you applied for your course and whether you think you received adequate university experience.
Here’s how to claim coronavirus compensation from your university
Are you sure that you didn’t get your money’s worth at university? The first steps are to outline exactly why you are feeling this way and gather as much evidence as possible to build a case. Then contact your university with your complaint.
If you are not satisfied with the response from the university, you have the option of referring your complaint to an ombudsman if you wish.
These are the ombudsman services that you can turn to with your complaint depending on where you are in the UK:
- Office of the Independent Judge for Higher Education (OIA) – For students in England and Wales
- Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) – For students in Scotland
- Public Services Ombudsman in Northern Ireland (NIPSO) – For students in Northern Ireland.
The ombudsman will examine your complaint and, if he considers this to be justified, make a proposal to your university on how to react. For example, if they think you should be compensated, tell your university and provide a suggested amount.
For more information and advice on how to apply for compensation from the university, please see our in-depth guide, which explains the process step by step.
How coronavirus can affect student funding
Good news: When it comes to your student loan, it’s basically business as usual.
You should have received the scheduled payment of your maintenance loan by the beginning of the summer semester, regardless of whether or not your university has made alternative arrangements for tuition.
Will students still receive student funding during the pandemic?
Yes! The study financing will continue to be available to students in the 2020/21 academic year. If your maintenance loan is late or you have a problem with your Student Finance application, we recommend that you contact your Student Finance provider.
You could get a higher student loan if your household income fell in 2020/21
If your household has experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for a higher maintenance loan. This is because you can do an income assessment for the current year if your household income drops by a certain amount (more on this shortly).
Typically anywhere in the UK, when applying for student finance, you will be asked to provide information about your parent’s or parent’s income from the previous tax year in order to find out how much maintenance loan you are due.
Because of this, the maintenance loan amount is calculated based on how much your parents earned (or how much You earned if you are financially independent) two years ago.
If your household income is now lower than it was then, you may be able to provide information about your income for this current tax year instead of your previous year. You will then need to keep your income information up to date during the year and confirm your actual income at the end of the tax year.
The following is an overview of the minimum income losses required to qualify for an income assessment for the current year in each part of the UK:
What happens to Student Finance when you leave university?
If you are thinking of quitting university because of the challenges posed by the coronavirus, it is important not to delve into that decision. Contact your tutor and student support at the university to discuss your options and see if there is more they can do to assist you.
Nonetheless, if you decide that withdrawing from your degree is the right decision for you, make sure you are familiar with the implications for your student loan. In particular, it is important to know that there is money to be paid back once you have received a tuition and / or maintenance loan.
First, you may have to repay part of your maintenance loan right away if you drop out in the middle of a term of office. For example, if you drop out right in the middle of the semester, you may be asked to repay half of your last loan installment immediately.
If so, you should be able to chat with SLC to discuss an affordable repayment plan.
The remainder of your student loan will not need to start repaying until April after you retire from your course and only after you earn above the repayment threshold.
All of this we can explain to you in our guide on what happens to your student loan when you leave university.
Coronavirus hardship fund
Universities and higher education providers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have also received grants to provide funding for students in need and mental health support. These scholarships should be available directly through your university.
Student Support Services will evaluate hardship payments at their own discretion and may prioritize some students based on their needs.
If you have financial problems, it is definitely worth checking with your university to find out if you may be eligible for a hardship fund.
Additionally, if the coronavirus has affected your mental health, we recommend that you contact your university’s support services. Special measures may be in place to help you cope with the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Do you have to repay your student loan if you can’t work because of coronavirus?
You will not start repaying your student loan until April of the year after you leave university, and even then only if you exceed the repayment threshold.
So, if you are a graduate and you have lost part or all of your income due to coronavirus, please don’t worry about paying back your student loan. If your income falls below the threshold, payments will be suspended until you start earning more.
For more information on Student Finance and COVID-19, please visit the Student Loans Company (SLC) website.
How Coronavirus Affects Part-Time Students
Worried about how the pandemic could affect your part-time job? You may be able to get support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
Read on for the most important information about the schema. If you’re struggling to find a part-time job, let’s go over some additional ways you can access and make money below.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The government has put in place supportive measures known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help cover the wages of employees in companies financially affected by the pandemic.
The system basically enables employers to put people’s jobs on hold or on vacation and, in the meantime, to provide them with a certain income.
Companies received grants so that employees on leave can receive them 80% of their wagesup to £ 2,500. This will be the case for application deadlines until January 2021. At that point, the government announced it would review the policy and see if employers would start paying more contributions.
The program should run until the end of October 2020, but has been extended until March 31, 2021. This means that by then, if you have taken vacation, your employer should be entitled to. But even here it is not yet clear what the conditions of the system will look like after January 2021.
Companies can bring back employees on leave part-time in what is known as “flexible leave”. For flexible vacation it is up to companies to determine the hours and shift patterns in which their employees work.
Companies will then be responsible for paying employees for the hours they work, and the government will continue to pay 80% of salaries for the hours Not worked.
If you’re on flexible leave, the £ 2,500 cap is proportional to the number of hours you don’t work. For example, if you only work 40% of your normal working hours, you can get up to 60% of the £ 2,500 (£ 1,500) cap.
Who is entitled to vacation?
To be eligible for the CRJS Extended Program, you must be employed and be on your employer’s PAYE payroll October 30, 2020.
You can enter into any employment contract to be eligible for the program. This also applies if you are an employee of Individuals Who are not a company – this may be the case, for example, if you are a nanny.
So if you have a part-time job that is affected by the lockdown, your employer can get a grant to cover the majority of your wages during your vacation.
If you rely on more seasonal part-time work – like just Christmas or summer, for example – you may not be able to take vacation. Chat with your employer for more information if you are not sure.
Holidays and annual leave are blocked
It’s worth noting that your employer may force you to take annual leave during your vacation. You should and should continue to receive your usual salary enough note in order to do this. For example, if you are asked to take three days of vacation, your employer should give you six days’ notice.
The government has said that you need to be paid during your annual vacation full vacation allowance. So if you are currently only receiving 80% of your salary, your employer will have to catch up on the 20% in order for you to receive your full vacation pay during your annual leave.
More information can be found here.
How to avoid the spread of coronavirus at university
It is so important to follow government guidelines to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to the university.
Remember, even though you may not have any problems recovering from the virus at all, it can be very serious for others.
For this reason, it is important to isolate yourself if you or someone you have been in close contact with has a new and persistent cough, high temperature, and / or loss or change in your sense of taste or smell.
Additionally, actions like social distancing, wearing masks, and washing your hands regularly can make a big difference.
Follow the guidelines under “Hands, Face, Space” to avoid catching and spreading coronaviruses:
Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and then dry them thoroughly.
Use hand sanitizer when you are out and about (especially when entering a building and after coming into contact with surfaces).
If necessary, wear face covering such as B. in public transport, in shops and in libraries. It’s important to wear them whenever you are in an enclosed public space where social distancing is difficult and you are around people you normally don’t meet.
Note, however, that some people are not allowed to wear face covering, e.g. B. People with difficulty breathing.
By social distancing and keeping a distance between you and others, you can reduce your risk of catching or spreading coronavirus.
This makes a huge difference as the virus is much more likely to be transmitted between people when they are close together. Be sure to follow local, regional, or national guidelines and social distancing measures.
Social distancing includes:
- Avoid physical contact and face people outside of your household
- Trying not to see too many different people in a short amount of time
- Keep a distance (preferably two meters) from people you do not live with.
What is the science behind “hands, face, space”?
This video describes the science of why it’s important to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, wear a face covering, and leave a space between yourself and others: