British students at Nottingham Trent University are demanding a refund after their field trip to Malta was replaced with an essay assignment in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sunday Times (UK) reported that the five-day MSc building surveying trip was supposed to include a tour of baroque buildings in Valletta, dinner in a waterfront restaurant in the capital and accommodation at a St Paul’s Bay hotel. This trip was included in the £9,750 fee they paid for the one-year course.
However, in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the university said that it will replace this field trip by assigning students with a 2,500-word essay on “methods of undertaking maintenance, repairs and restoration work on heritage assets”.
Students were informed that they wouldn’t receive any refund of the fee for their Malta trip because StudyLinkTours, the organiser, wouldn’t reimburse the university for its costs.
Student Alex Plant said the Malta trip had been in Nottingham Trent’s prospectus and was “a factor in my and many of my coursemates’ decision to choose the course.”
“We think it’s absolutely reasonable to get a refund,” he said, in a letter that was signed by 11 students.
“The Malta trip included four days of site visits. I don’t think those skills can be replicated by writing yet another essay.”
However, Andrew Knight, dean of the school of architecture at Nottingham Trent University, responded that the university only refunds fees in rare cases, such as when a course is withdrawn.
“The staff have worked to ensure that alternative assessments are provided, so that you have the opportunity to meet the learning outcomes without the trip to Malta,” he said, adding that the students had already benefited from two domestic field trips to Liverpool and Ironbridge and that the fees paid are for the course as a whole.
He added that Alex and his coursemates “did benefit from two domestic field trips to Liverpool and Ironbridge”, and that “the fees paid are for the course as a whole, rather than individual elements”.