Students from one of Scotland's most prestigious universities have hit out at their institution's handling of the Covid-19 response. 

In a formal letter of complaint addressed to Governors at the University of Edinburgh, students expressed their feelings of anger and "betrayal".

Written by a collection of postgraduate and undergraduate students, the letter has gained over 1350 signatures in under 24 hours - as they fear a looming mental health crisis among the student community.

Postgraduate student Camilla was one of the students behind the launch of the complaint.

She said: “I posted something negative about how courses were being run on my Facebook, and it was like a bomb exploded.

"I received dozens of replies from overwhelmed students. What once was a silent majority of people now wanted to organize something to raise their voices. And so we did."

"A lot of courses have been completely moved online and there seems to be no set criteria for what "hybrid" means, nor a standardized control across the programs in terms of the quality of online teaching.

"For many students it really is a russian roulette. You never know what you get."

For these students at Edinburgh, the encouraged return to campus seemed a "money-grabbing ploy" to extract both rent and tuition fees based on the promise of blended learning.

The letter reads: "We chose this institution expecting a quality of education that would live up to its strong reputation.

READ MORE: Scots react to top university's measures to support students self-isolating

"However, we have found the University to be thus far negligent in its transparency, communication, and delivery of education."

It continued: "In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic the University of Edinburgh had promised students a collaborative learning experience, whether fully online or hybrid.

"Going into the second week of classes, however, many students have received recycled audio or video lectures, and sometimes entirely asynchronous online experiences lacking tutorials, seminars, and live interactions between peers and professors.

"Discussion boards are not a valid substitute for contact-based tutorials. Teams Meetings cannot replace academic networking.

"We were promised our degrees would hold the same value, regardless of the exceptional circumstances. This has turned out to be false.

"The quality of our education has diminished while the price of tuition remains the same."

Students are now calling for a partial reimbursement of fees to be made possible, more and more accessible online materials and an extension to the deadline for fee payments. 

Students also included their demands for on-site Covid-19 testing, a stop to automated reply emails and free access to higher bandwidth for those living in university accommodation.


It comes after Scottish universities have received extensive backlash for their handling of substantial coronavirus outbreaks linked to student communities and the subsequent enforced self-isolation of thousands of students. 

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International postgraduate student Becca said: “It’s definitely been a rough start to the academic year. I think I can speak for most of the student body when I say that we are struggling with the absurdity of an online education that costs a fortune.

“We aren’t receiving the support or education we were promised with our acceptance to such a prestigious institution and it’s disappointing and frustrating, to say the least.”

And first year undergraduate student Solomon added: “The university can’t control the pandemic, but they they can control how they respond to it.”

Professor Colm Harmon, Vice Principal Students at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Academic and support staff have been working throughout the summer to ensure our students continue to receive the world-class education that they expect from the University of Edinburgh.

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"Students will receive a hybrid learning experience, in line with Scottish Government guidance, where some in-person teaching will happen where possible and safe to do so on campus. Lectures are digital, and smaller class teaching is the focus of our in-person lessons.  

“We are delivering more than 95,000 hours of teaching this semester and more than 35,000 hours of these are scheduled to be on campus. Our libraries and other study facilities are open, and we have created new spaces for students to meet and interact during this challenging year. We have also introduced new courses to help our students adjust to this new way of learning, as well as providing extra technical support.

“We know that this is a year like no other, but we want to reassure our students that a degree from Edinburgh will be as valuable as it has been for more than 400 years.” 

The students are due to sit down with university bosses next week.