British Queen celebrates

Thousands of university students have requested the London High Court's permission to proceed with a collective lawsuit against University College London (UCL)

regarding the disruptions to their studies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and strikes. Over 3,000 current and former students, who paid a minimum of £9,250 ($11,482) per year, are suing UCL for breach of contract. This case could potentially lead to similar legal action against other universities in the UK.

UCL maintains that it did not breach its contract with students, arguing that it had the authority to modify or cancel parts of its courses due to circumstances beyond its control, such as the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures.

The lawyers representing the claimants state that approximately 100,000 students from 18 universities, including UCL, have joined the legal action. During the pandemic, universities throughout the UK shifted to online learning, and students were denied access to educational facilities like libraries.

Anna Boase, a lawyer representing the claimants, informed the court that students were promised "in-person, on-campus tuition" as part of their contract with UCL, but they did not receive what was agreed upon. Boase also highlighted that students' education was further disrupted by industrial action between 2017 and 2022, resulting in the loss of 47 teaching days due to strikes.

"They want justice," she stated. "They have come to court to seek the difference between the significant sums they paid and the actual value of the services provided by UCL."

UCL's lawyers argue that there is no distinction in the "market value" between in-person and online teaching.

UCL is requesting that the High Court suspend the lawsuits to allow students to go through the university's internal complaints process.

Judge Barbara Fontaine stated that she will deliver a ruling on whether the lawsuit should be put on hold at a later date following Wednesday's hearing. Photo by stevecadman, Wikimedia commons.