B2 Reading Test
Read an article about students’ protests in the UK, and for questions 1 to 10, decide if the sentences are true or false.
UK Students Protest Covid-19 Measures
5th October 2020
A group of UK university students are demanding partial refunds of their university fees, due to the coronavirus restrictions which have severely limited their university experience. This comes at a time when over 2,600 students and staff in 50 UK universities have confirmed cases of Covid-19. Thousands of students have been told to self-isolate, while face-to-face lessons have been replaced by online lectures. The group, Refund Us Now, has been asking for a 15% cash refund for all students who have been told lies and forced to comply with strict rules by their universities. The fifteen percent corresponds to the amount by which online learning was found to be less effective than in-person teaching, according to one international study.
At the beginning of the term, students were encouraged to attend campus. They were promised a safe university experience involving a blend of online and face-to-face teaching. Instead, many have been forced to stay inside halls of residence, socialising only with the students with whom they share kitchen and bathroom facilities. Many of them feel they have been abandoned and mistreated. At Manchester Metropolitan University, where 1,700 students in two accommodation blocks were told to self-isolate after more than 120 tested positive, there are reports of security guards stopping students from leaving their halls, even when they were no longer required to self-isolate. Meanwhile, students at Leeds University were left without cleaning supplies or information about how to buy food or take out rubbish. They were also prevented from using laundry services and instead were told to buy more clothes or wash their clothes in the sink. Many students question why they were encouraged to return to university at all, given the availability of online learning. Outbreaks at universities were, they say, inevitable, and students shouldn’t have been encouraged to attend in person.
University staff, meanwhile, have their own concerns. Staff at Northumbria University, for example, want more Covid-19 testing and more online teaching to allow for thorough cleaning and support teaching to take place and protect the health of themselves and their families.
They have cause for concern. Covid-19 can spread very easily in student accommodation. It’s also very hard to monitor and enforce students’ activities there, unlike in the bars and restaurants that they are forbidden to visit. Despite hefty fines for breaking government rules of remaining in household groups, some students are organising parties for 20-25 people. The students who have tested positive for the virus feel most free to socialise with others who test positive. Some students feel they are better off catching the disease while they are among other young, healthy people and away from more vulnerable family members. Other students, however, keep to the rules. They use their isolation to bond with housemates or entertain themselves online. But inevitably, some are feeling mental and emotional strain, as well as anger and frustration over their less-than-perfect university experience.
Will they get a refund? There are calls for students to get money back if the quality of their learning is severely impacted by the new conditions. However, students receiving adequate online learning and access to appropriate library and research facilities are ineligible. Meanwhile, students who have been told to self-isolate at short notice in student accommodation are receiving food, essential items and some financial assistance. It seems that students will have to accept their unfortunate university experience as just another unwelcome impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.
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