Wales politics

Students deserve college strike refunds, says Brexit Party

University lecture Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Students will miss out on £600 worth of education in an eight-day strike, the Brexit Party claims

Welsh universities should compensate students for any disruption caused by strike action by staff this month, the Brexit Party in Wales has said.

The party claims eight days of lost college time would be worth £600 for someone paying £9,000 tuition fees.

MEP Nathan Gill urged Welsh ministers to support those who faced paying for lectures "that aren't taking place".

The Welsh Government said students should feel able to raise any concerns with their universities.

Bangor and Cardiff are among 60 UK universities set to be hit by strike action by staff in a dispute over pay and pensions.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) - which staged strikes over pensions in spring 2018 - are due to walk out between 25 November and 4 December.

The Brexit Party estimates that students from Wales - whose tuition fees are subsidised - would have paid £280 towards eight days of college time.

It claims the figure would be £600 for students from other parts of the UK and even more for those from overseas.

Image caption Cardiff University lecturers went on strike over pensions in 2018

Mr Gill said: "This is the second wave of strikes to hit Welsh students in the past three years.

"For many students, this will have amounted to over six weeks of contact hours with their university lost during their degrees.

"As these courses are subsidised for Welsh students by the Welsh Assembly Government, why is the first minister and his government not standing up for students, as well as the interests of the taxpayer?

"Students are now simply paying these universities for lectures that aren't taking place."

Mark Reckless, who leads the Brexit Party in the Welsh Assembly, added: "It is not fair that students lose out financially.

"Any other institution would be expected to offer a refund to their clients or customers if there was disruption like this to their services. Why should universities be any different?"

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We are working with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and Universities Wales to monitor the impact any industrial action has on both staff and students.

"If there is any impact or disruption to studies or services then students should feel able to contact their university to raise any related concerns.

"We would expect that there is then a discussion on what actions the university can take to address any impact or disruption caused and that actions are agreed and followed through."

Bangor University Students' Union has said it supports the right of university staff to strike, but urged them to make alternative arrangements for scheduled lectures, tutorials and other work which students may miss as a result.

A Bangor University spokesperson said measures had been put in place "to ensure that learning outcomes can be delivered", and that it was "not anticipated that compensation or refunds will be necessary".

The students union in Cardiff is due to discuss and vote on the matter on Thursday.

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