Drunkenly, you thrust 99p towards a cheeseburger in Maccies, post Park End. Eagerly, you anticipate the bun, the cheese, the sauce, the onions, the patty and the pickles. The distinguished formulation invokes certain expectations within you that must be satisfied, whether you’re wobbled or not.
Consider Trinity 2020 in much the same way. The experiences that students were led to believe they would receive, whilst high on admissions propaganda, do not match the current reality. Expectations far surpass an online lecture series and buffering encounters with tutors via poor quality Teams calls from the dinner table.
The University is serving up pickles alone. “Where is the rest of the burger?!” You cry out in despair. Who’d pay 99p for just a pickle? You’re drunk, but you’re not this drunk… You aren’t going to keel over and accept a pickle as a cheeseburger, are you?
“The course fees paid by matriculated students are for the provision of tuition, supervision, academic services and facilities by the University (including your department or faculty) and the colleges” says the University. The admissions page boasts of the “over 400 clubs and societies” that students can engage in. The valuable personal development they wax lyrical of, that reputedly benefits future career progression is no more. Which of these 400 will students still have access to it? Count with me on your fingers.
It is tricky to conceal the fact that the entire social aspect of the University has evaporated right before students’ eyes. The buzzing college environment will soon be home to foxes or some other savage creatures, if C*mbr*dge is anything to go by. No more vibrant discussion at dinner, no more fun in college bars (as if this was new for Merton), no more cuppers. Networking and career services may be parodied in some form of online joke, if you’re lucky. Goodbye high-flying investment banking, hello chimney sweeping? Eh, I’m sure it was worth that £9250.
Well, if you can’t have any enjoyment or career development, at least you’ll get the degree you deserve! Hmm. You thought that. Sorry to misinform you. You’ll be subject to online examinations. Don’t fret! It’s fine because everyone is swearing hand on heart they won’t cheat and students might’ve completed “a readiness self-assessment”, insists the PVC for Education. So, I’m unbelievably confident examiners will have no issue objectively accounting for the differences in circumstance, you self-reported. Who is to say people will accurately self-report? Nonetheless, I won’t question anyone’s moral persuasion, besides they swore hand on heart and R2D2-like AI will catch these cheats looking at notes mid-exam. The University policy has more holes through it than a sponge.
Fairness just tumbled down the stairs. Get revising from that bed of yours, break that back! It’s not like you paid for a seat in the Rad Cam… Shame you don’t have a swanky desk at home or access to that underfunded public library. Sorry about that screaming sibling too. Where are the books on your reading list that you forked out for? Worse still, these measures will disproportionately affect those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. If this wasn’t enough to make you feel blue, I don’t know what is.
Ah, a global pandemic, 24/7 lockdown will do. In all seriousness, people will lose relatives. They live in fear on a daily basis. Students suffering from mental health issues, or otherwise, will not be in a position to work as they could in normal times. Disturbingly, according to an OUSU survey “44 percent of students feel stressed all or most of the time” whilst studying in Oxford, this was pre-pandemic. Now add the compounding effects of the epidemic and home life, levels of stress and anxiety will be through the roof. Rustication is a privilege, there will be no respite for some. University counselling services are no longer face-to-face and now run in a virtual depleted capacity. Even more students will develop serious issues in the coming months. Individuals will not get the support they paid for and require to perform at their best, let alone to be content. This is life or death for some. No amount of jiggery-pokery can rectify this. Why should students pay in full for these unfavorable conditions and the worsening of their own mental health?
The University must acknowledge that it can no longer fulfil prior expectations. As part of this sincere acceptance it should compensate the student body to reflect the shortcomings, through a partial refund of the year’s tuition fees.
Maccies should get some bouncers. There’s going to be an uproar if they keep trying to dish up pickles at the price of cheeseburgers; rowdy students have one hell of an appetite.