your rights: supporting students during coronavirus

your rights during coronavirus

We are not lawyers, the below does not constitute legal advice.  

The Office for Students is the regulator of higher education. It has stated that during coronavirus, universities should make all reasonable efforts: 

  • to enable students to complete their studies 

  • for achievement to be reliably assessed 

  • for qualifications to be awarded securely 

  • to enable a fair and robust admissions process for entrants to courses in 2020-21. 


your contract with UEA and its terms and conditions 

your relationship with UEA is governed by a contract and that contract has terms and conditions. 

when you're choosing a university or course, universities must give you the information you need to make your decision about what and where to study. This includes information on things like: 

  • the course’s content, structure and length 

  • the location of study and the award given on successfully completing the course 

  • total cost of the course, including tuition fees and any necessary additional costs such as field trips, lab equipment or studio/bench fees 

  • the university’s terms and conditions, including rules and regulations and policies relating to student conduct.   


?you should also recieve ‘pre-contract information’, in case you want to change your mind as a result.  The pre-contract information should cover: 

  • course information and costs 

  • arrangements for making payments to the university 

  • the complaints-handling process  

  • any right you have to cancel should you change your mind  

Once you start, the university’s terms and conditions apply. These must:  

  • strike a fair balance between the rights and obligations of the university and the student  

  • not give the university wide discretion to change a course’s cost or content. 


this is the important bit: if UEA makes any changes to your contractual terms and conditions because they are changing the way that they deliver your course or award your qualification, they should contact you to tell you: 

  • what the changes are, before they take effect 

  • the reasons for the changes 

  • the impact the changes are likely to have 

  • the options available to you if you want to avoid the changes (without you being adversely affected) 

In basic terms, UEA must communicate with you clearly (e.g. by email) about any arrangements they are making to change the way your modules are taught or assessed. This must be in advance, you should be told why and what the effect of the change is likely to be. Crucially, you should be given options to avoid this change in a way that would not detriment you.  

The Office for Students has said that it would be concerned if you were not offered a reasonable alternative and that the university should, in particular, consider whether students should be offered the opportunity to be taught and assessed in the normal way when the situation allows. 


In terms of assessment, the Office for Students has made it clear that you have the right to be told whether each component of your assessment is going to be:  

  1. removed 

  1. revised  

  1. substituted  

  1. deferred.  

You have the right to be told why, have any impact on you taken into account, and you should have a chance to object or disagree. 


If you feel that there have been any variations to the information around your course or institution, such as modules that you came to study specifically no longer being available, and you weren’t consulted about this and didn’t agree to these changes, then you can complain to the university. UEA has an academic complaints procedure that can be found here: 

You can seek support in submitting a complaint to UEA from advice(su):  

Your complaint must be dealt with fairly and will be heard by a Faculty Appeal and Complaint Panel.  

If you are not happy with how the university handles your complaint, you may be able to refer it to an independent complaint scheme such as the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. You can find details here: 

making this work for all students 

Ensuring that students are supported and listened to throughout this process is vital. It is especially important that UEA considers the impact of the move to online delivery on students who might not be able to engage with or benefit from what works for most students.  

This includes:  

  • Disabled students and those with mental health issues 

  • Students with specific learning difficulties who may be disadvantaged by an alternative approach to teaching or assessment. 

  • Students suffering from health problems relating to coronavirus 

  • Students with caring responsibilities 

  • Care leavers 

  • Students estranged from their families 

  • Those without access to laptops or other equipment, good broadband or suitable workspace  

  • Students with specific financial pressures 

  • Students who are also designated as key workers during the coronavirus crisis. 

  • Students in their final year of study. 

It may be that some students’ situations are not currently conducive to study, and if you are in this situation, the Office for Students says the university should be communicating to you what assurances they can offer about what will happen if you choose to continue to study via a changed approach to delivery (e.g. online), but then you are unable to do this successfully. For more support on this, you can contact advice(su) or contact your hub to get more information on the changes.  



We know this is a big concern for lots of students. the Office for Students says that if placements are disrupted, the university could: 

  • decide that the placement should no longer be required because students can demonstrate that relevant outcomes have been achieved by other means; 

  • amend the planned placement, in terms of time or location to enable it to be completed; 

  • substitute an alternative activity which allows students to demonstrate that relevant outcomes have been achieved; 

  • enable the student to take the placement at a later time when the placement is possible. 

Where placements are taking place (e.g. medical/health students), you must still be appropriately supported and supervised – it’s the university’s job to make sure this happens. 


if you need help or advice on how to raise a complaint or academic appeal with UEA, please contact our advice(su) service who will be able to help you