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Student Complaints

Student complaints relating to the impact of COVID-19 in the 2020-21 academic year

The University is aware that students have been affected by the impact of COVID-19 during the 2020-21 academic year.

The University has sought as far as reasonably possible to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on its students’ education by, for example, moving teaching online, modifying examinations or assessments where appropriate (while maintaining academic standards) and providing pastoral support and guidance.

Students have been encouraged to apply under existing processes for review or appropriate allowances if they believe their performance in examinations has been adversely impacted by COVID-19.

In the circumstances and having reviewed matters carefully, the University is not planning to provide a fee refund or financial reimbursement generally to students. The factors taken into account by the University in reaching this position include the following:

  • As a result of the steps taken and processes available to avoid substantial detriment to students, the University anticipates that few (if any) students will in fact have been materially disadvantaged as a result of COVID-19.
  • Tuition fees are charged for a wide range of educational facilities, services and learning opportunities, which are provided by the University and do not directly correlate to individual teaching sessions or facilities, including specific teaching or learning provision which may have been delivered in alternative formats as a result of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is noted that most facilities normally provided in-person have, where possible, been successfully moved to online systems including library resources, student counselling and disability resource centre provision. 
  • In many cases, the terms of admission, which students agree when they accept a place at Cambridge, includes a clause which states that the University will not be liable for matters outside the University’s control, which explicitly includes pandemics and restrictions imposed by government or public authorities.

There may be some students who consider that they have incurred significant financial loss or damage as a consequence of the pandemic and who believe that they have valid ground(s) for complaint against the University. In the event that any student, having taken into account the factors listed above, still wishes to bring a complaint in relation to the impact of COVID-19, a dedicated complaint form has been developed for use under the existing Student Complaint Procedure. If students wish to complain about any adverse effects on their examination results then an examination review request must be submitted within 28 days of receiving their formal results.

Should any complaint be upheld, and where the requested remedy is for the reimbursement of tuition fees, which have been funded by a third party, such as the Student Loans Company in the case of Home/EU students, students should note that normally any reimbursement will be paid back to the funder.

The deadline for bringing complaints under the Student Complaint Procedure is normally 28 days from the date of the event which is the subject matter of the complaint. In order to ensure clarity and fairness in relation to any complaints brought relating to the impact of COVID-19, the time limit for bringing such complaints will run for 28 days from the Monday following the scheduled end of Easter Term for 2021, meaning that such complaints must be submitted (to StudentComplaints@admin.cam.ac.uk) on or before Monday 19 July 2021.

As with any other complaint, it is expected that a complainant will have first raised their concerns directly with the relevant Department or Faculty at the time of the events giving rise to the complaint.

It should further be noted that, while the University in principle accepts group complaints in certain circumstances, such complaints are unlikely to be suitable in relation to COVID-19, unless the individual complainants share the same year and course group and are requesting the same remedies on indistinguishable grounds. The University reserves the right where appropriate to combine individual complaints or to separate group complaints.

Further information regarding the Student Complaint Procedure is available here. Any prospective complainant is encouraged to seek support from a member of the Student Advice Service, or other advisor of the student’s choosing. As ever, advice and support will be available from a student's College Tutor.