University College London faces major lawsuit from students for tuition refunds

University College London faces major lawsuit from students for tuition refunds
credit: centralfifetimes

London (Parliament News) – Over 5,000 students are suing University College London for not providing in-person teaching during strikes and the pandemic, with further hearings scheduled in July and November.

Approximately, 5,000 students are now bringing legal action against one of the country’s biggest universities over trouble to their tuition generated by strikes and the Covid-19 pandemic, a judge at the High Court has stated.

Why Are 5,000 Students Suing University College London?

Current and ex-students at University College London (UCL) are pursuing damages over alleged violations of its contractual obligations to deliver in-person teaching and access to facilities. UCL is upholding the claims, stating it was not under a commitment to provide in-person, campus-based tuition.

Attorneys for the students conveyed at a hearing in London last month that the case should be handled through a group litigation order (GLO), where several lawsuits with similar issues can be negotiated together.

Why Was the Group Litigation Order Denied in the UCL Case?

In a judgment on Wednesday, Judge Jeremy Cook stated that while there are “a large number of claims, over 5,000”, a GLO “would not be suitable”. He stated: “I am not satisfied that my discretion should be exercised in favour of making a GLO. “I do not consider a GLO will help to promote fairness, save costs or allow the claims to be dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.”

The hearing in June implied that UCL is the second-largest university in the country, with approximately 51,000 students. Those taking legal acts against the body were pupils at the university for at least one year between 2017 and 2022, with some still studying.

Judge Cook stated that further hearing in the case is anticipated to be held on July 19, before another hearing in November. Following the order, UCL stated that a trial of several “test cases” is due to be held in 2026.

How Will UCL Address the Legal Challenges of Students?

Professor Kathy Armour, vice administrator of education and student experience at UCL, stated: “We are delighted that the court has rejected the GLO application which would have only pushed further defer to this claim. During these proceedings, UCL has never desired to dispute the right of people to access the courts to bring claims as a subject of general principle.”

“In fact, through the tribunals, we have already submitted our ‘ready-made’ alternative dispute resolution process, that would have delivered far quicker outcomes for students, but this was flatly denied by the claimants’ lawyers.”

Matthew Patching, a partner at law firm Harcus Parker representing students, stated: “With the trial now appointed for 18 months, UCL should concentrate on making a reasonable settlement recommendation to the claimants rather than persisting to fight this claim through to the end. “UCL carried almost all teaching online during Covid but declined to reduce students’ fees.

“Today’s important judgment brings UCL students and our clients at more than 100 other universities one stage closer to receiving fair compensation.”

The Student Group Claim stated similar legal action was being designed against more than 100 other UK universities, adding that lawyers have “been in correspondence” with more than 50 institutions.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.