Student Refunds

Did you know that you may be able to argue a partial tuition fee refund if the University have made significant or surprising changes to your course and/or are not providing you with a service that is of a reasonable quality?

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Student Refunds


Did you know that you may be able to argue a partial tuition fee refund if the University have made significant or surprising changes to your course and/or are not providing you with a service that is of a reasonable quality?


Your ability to claim compensation, or a partial fee refund, comes in most cases from your contract with the University. Although not everyone sees it this way, your relationship with the University is essentially a contractual one and, as you are an individual agreeing a contract with a business, it is a consumer contract. This is important because it gives you additional rights under consumer protection legislation.


What can you complain about?


  • The bases on which you can complain are clearly defined in the Student Complaints Procedure and are called grounds of complaint. You will see that there are a number of grounds but, in terms of Covid-19, you may complain under this procedure where you feel you have suffered a detriment, dissatisfaction, or disadvantage as a result of disruption caused to your programme by the pandemic. This detriment, dissatisfaction or disadvantage may include issues such as
  • the curriculum of the programme was not delivered as specified at the start of the 2020/21 academic year
  • the arrangements for the delivery of teaching and assessment were not as specified at the start of the 2020/21 year
  • your learning was not supported as you might have reasonably expected based on the information received at the start of the academic year
  • you have not had the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the programme learning outcomes
  • support services were not made available for you as you might have reasonably expected
  • you have not been provided with rent rebate for University accommodation as you might have expected.


This list is not exhaustive: if the University promised you one thing and have delivered something very different, or have delivered what they promised but in a poor way, you may be able to argue a claim.


Importantly, the University are able to make reasonable adjustments or changes to your programme, provided they maintain the quality of the teaching and do not deviate from the very essence of what they agreed to deliver. It can be a difficult to judge the difference in quality between face to face and online teaching and/or to prove that your learning experience was less than expected, so you will need to get as much support for your argument as you can.


What do you need to do?


The first thing you will need to do if you are having issues with the quality of your teaching or student experience, is submit a complaint using the COVID-19 Student Complaints Process. Complaints must be raised using the COVID-19 Student Complaint form. Your complaint must be submitted by sending your completed form to


If you are a disabled student and require adjustments to this procedure to be able to fully engage with the process, you can contact to identify reasonable adjustments which may be made to support your engagement. Tel:029 20876628.



Remember, if you are looking to claim money from the University you will need to make sure your argument is as strong and as compelling as possible.


The best way to get a successful complaint outcome is to make sure that you identify and evidence:

  • how the University have either failed to do something they should have done, or done something that they should not have done; and
  • how this has caused you detriment, dissatisfaction or disadvantage.


A complaint that simply says you are unhappy because your learning was online for most of the year, or more of the year than you expected, is risky if it does not identify any of the University's obligations, does not identify any failings and does not evidence the detriment caused.


You will also need to get as much evidence as possible to support what you say, but don’t be put off if you are struggling to think of what you can get. Do some research, find the learning outcomes for your programme and identify any that are not being met. The learning outcomes for your programme are available through SIMS online and set out what you should know, understand or be able to do when you have completed a learning activity or your programme of study. Look at the University’s obligations under your contract and identify where they have failed (further information on this point is available on our COVID-19 Disruption Complaints page).


The University will normally want the opportunity to put things right in the first instance and are likely to ask students to wait until the end of the academic year before trying to assess any right to a partial refund. While waiting until the end of the year for a financial assessment may be a reasonable request, you will still need to submit a complaint to report any issues that may be fixable as they arise. A failure to report issues at the time may give the impression that they are not serious enough to warrant a complaint, which can work against you in the end.


Be sure to keep a copy of everything you submit and continue to gather evidence of issues as the year progresses. If the issue(s) are affecting more than just you, you can consider forming a group and submitting a group complaint, which in some cases can give more weight to your argument.


If you are not happy with the complaint outcome you can request a review and ultimately take it to the ombuds body, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), or even make a court claim for money back.


Further information on your rights and how to exercise them are detailed on our COVID-19 Disruption Complaints page and you can contact Student Advice if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to learn more about what you can do.


Emily Harding

Student Adviser | Cynghorydd Myfyrwyr


Student Advice are a free, confidential and independent service available for students of Cardiff University. We are independent of the University and our role is to give you impartial advice and guidance and help you understand the options available to you.
+44 (0)2920 781410