With the compensation deadline for the strike disruption fast approaching, we asked the SU Advice team to take part in an Insta-takeover to answer your questions about applying and filling in the compensation form. And they had a lot! Here are all your questions and answers in full, including some we didn’t have space to include on the story…. PS. Don’t forget to apply by Friday!
Q. How many weeks of strikes have there been in total this academic year?
A. There were 14 days over a month long period in February - March, along with a week-and-a-half last year.
Q. If we even get any of our fees back, when can we expect a decision and the payment?
This is difficult to answer! The OIA (External OIA ombudsman guidance) say the complaint process should take a maximum of 90 days from beginning to end; however it may take longer. If it takes longer the university should update you.
Q. What’s the likelihood of actually receiving compensation if lecturers sent out emails beforehand?
A. Depends on the circumstances. The complaints process will look at a variety of issues including stress and inconvenience, missed learning opportunities and out of pocket expenses. All these factors can be considered. If you feel that the emails were not adequate to stop you being impacted by the strikes, we would suggest explaining what happened and howthe emails did not adequately mitigate the effect on you.
Q. Will the money be refunded into our bank accounts or back to student finance so we don’t have to pay extra interest at a later time in date?
A. We would not expect a payment that is linked to stress and inconvenience or out of pocket expenses to be taken from your tuition fees. The position with compensation given specifically for missed learning opportunities is less clear and we are currently seeking clarification.
Q. I’m a recent graduate - can I still apply?
A. This process is through the Goldsmiths complaint process. Students who have graduated need to make a complaint within two months of this date: https://www.gold.ac.uk/governance/appealsandcomplaints/studentcomplaints/
Q. I’ve sent in the complaints form. Is that all I need to do for now?
Was this for the first or second round of strikes this year? If just the first then you could consider submitting more information.
Q. How do we know if we are eligible for the compensation? I’m an International student but obviously I have taken out a loan so how does it work?
A. It is unfortunately impossible to say in advance that a student will definitely get financial compensation as a result of completing the form. Decisions are made on a case by case basis.
Q. I had two classes missed, is it still worth applying?
A. Depends - this is not just about missed learning opportunities. It is also about out of pocket expenses and stress and inconvenience.
Q. Have students from goldsmiths been successful before?
A. One word - yes!
Q. Do you have any tips on how to write the form to have more chance of getting the reimbursement?
A. We will add a link to the presentation here, as soon as we have it, as that should help!
Q. Can you apply if your lectures were still on, but you didn't go to support the picket line?
A. No, you wouldn't be able to make a case for missed learning opportunities if the lectures were provided.
Q. What kind of evidence should I provide?
A. It depends on the circumstances. Receipts for out of pocket expenses, medical letters and emails confirming missed classes are all common forms of evidence.
Q. What can be considered as out of pocket expenses?
A. Out of pocket expenses are expenses that a student would be expected to pay for upfront and were incurred unnecessarily because of the strike. Examples could include paying for travel to campus or child care that was unnecessary because it was cancelled.
Q. What kind of evidence can we submit for stress and inconvenience causes?
A. Medical evidence can be particularly helpful. However, any documentation which can demonstrate the stress and inconvenience you have experienced can also be included.
Q. If I don't have evidence of how it's affected me, will I not be entitled to money back?
A. Usually a student would be expected to provide evidence.
Q. If we've all paid the same and lost out on the same amount of teaching, what makes evidence necessary? Surely, we're all entitled to compensation equally? Does it mean medical evidence about mental health?
A. It may include medical evidence. It may also include evidence of out of pocket expenses or evidence of things like course materials not being put on the VLE.
Q. If some of our teaching was officially and unofficially made up (i.e. tutorials rescheduled) should we not count that as missed teaching? I’m wondering because some of my tutorials were rescheduled but because of the shift in their initial timeline they weren’t evenly distributed and I feel like my education has been deeply impacted by having any made up teaching so compacted.
A. Make it clear on your form how the sessions which were put in place to replace the missed teaching was unsatisfactory.
Q. For the declared disability section on the Stage 2 form, does our disability have to be declared with the university?
A. If you have a disability that has made the effect of the strike worse but has not been declared to the university, it would still be advisable to include as much detail of the effect as possible and also include any supporting evidence you have.
Q. Do we specifically state how much we’d like back? Is that something we need to decide for ourselves?
A. This is a very difficult question to answer. It is difficult to make a direct correlation between missed contact hours and annual tuition fees. You cannot simply divide £9,250 by the number of teaching weeks, and the number of taught sessions per week to work out the cost of the missed sessions. Such a measure does not take account of other learning opportunities, facilities, or the potential difference in value of final year teaching compared to first year teaching.
Q. Also are you aware of how compensation, if any, will be paid? Does it go to us or back to SFE?
A. It is likely that you will be paid directly. Students are from all over the world and some pay their own fees, some receive funds from other grants. However, the SU is awaiting confirmation from the university.
Q. Can we include other missed opportunities aside from teaching e.g. cancelled rep meetings?
A. It is generally helpful to include as much detail as possible. However chances of success are reduced if the decision to cancel was not made by the university and if the opportunities were rescheduled.
Q. As a cohort, we are also submitting a group complaint with our names signed. Any tips on groups complaints or key points we should mention?
A. Group complaints are helpful in situations where a group of students have been affected in an identical way. Within the group a member may have been also affected specifically (for example through a disability or child care responsibilities). A student in this situation would still be able to be a member of the group complaint but could also consider making a separate, individual complaint to highlight their personal situation.
Q. Can stage 1 be business meeting with all tutors from the course and students where questions were raised and answered?
A. YES - include details in your form and any notes from your meeting as evidence if you think this is relevant.
Q. Are there any legal contracts which we have undertaken as a student, between us and the university? Do they in anyway cover legality concerning refunds? If so, can we request them?
A. You can find your student contract here. You can also find out more about your consumer rights here.
Q. I have heard that previous complaints were rejected because of strikes being regarded as force majeure which is equal a natural disaster. The OIA has stated before that the university was warned and had time to react so it actually is not a legitimate response. Can we say in the form that they shall not try to declare strikes as force majeure?
Q. I still haven't paid 2/3 of my tuition fee - should I just hang off?
A. By not paying tuition fees, students put themselves at risk of not being allowed to progress into the next year and not receiving their final grades. We therefore advise against withholding tuition fees.
Q. Have students got compensation for the last strikes yet?
A. Students have received money for 2018 strikes. The university is not making decisions on 2019 strikes and are looking at the effect of 2019 and 2020 combined.
To apply for compensation, follow this link.
Finally, good luck!