How do I change British university's mind? I don't want to argue or get into a debate. For privacy, I prefer not to disclose more details. The course isn't science or medicine, so there are not many reasons to study this on campus. I started remote study in Oct. 2021.

Their refusal unnerves me because the university's Health Centre is overwhelmed. It takes months to book one appointment. I heard from friends they can see you just at most twice each term. I prefer my psychiatrist who knows me well. My parents want me to stay at home, so they can take care of me.

Other reasons for remote study

I didn't mention these yet because they feel less persuasive.

COVID is rebounding in Britain. Londoners ignore mask rules. “Face coverings must be worn for the full duration of journeys on the TfL network, including inside our stations and bus stations,”. This anti-mask makes me so anxious! But is this baleful enough to convince my university?

I want to save money by studying from home, rather than rent expensive accommodation. I'm on low income.

This is the reply I have received from the university:

We are responding to your request for remote study for 2022. As stated in our email to all students, the faculty prefers students to study on campus starting from January 2022, except those with exceptional circumstances that prevent them from returning.

Thank you for providing your psychiatrist's letter to explain your relevant circumstances, namely your Major Depressive Disorder for which you are taking antidepressants. We are deeply sympathetic to your depression. We recognize the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health, particularly for anyone with psychiatric illnesses.

Nonetheless we are unable to accept your request. The university has a Health Centre with psychiatrists who are very experienced in and has regularly dealt with psychiatric illnesses. We have confirmed with the Health Centre that they are happy to schedule you for regular consultations upon your return. They also confirmed that the NHS covers your antidepressants for a very nominal fee. Therefore there is no sufficient basis that your Major Depressive Disorder prevents you from returning to campus.

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    Is this really a good idea? Presumably the university has not designed this course with 'remote study' in mind. Teaching, resources etc will be optimised for in-person study. Even if you convinced them to let you work remotely, you are likely to get an inferior experience. I would encourage you to explore universities that are actively trying to promote a remote-learning option.
    – avid
    Nov 4, 2021 at 6:18
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    @avid i edited my post. "I would encourage you to explore universities that are actively trying to promote a remote-learning option." not possible. i already paid and started this course.
    – user148927
    Nov 4, 2021 at 6:31
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    Are you vaccinated? (Another comment follows in case the mods delete this comment.)
    – Nobody
    Nov 4, 2021 at 6:43
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    You could attempt to contact other people higher up in the university (I don't know who you've been in touch with) or perhaps the student union/student disability services to see if they can support you to make this case further. But honestly, I suspect that (rightly or wrongly) you're unlikely to convince the university to change their mind, based on the information you've shared here. You then have to make a choice between attending in person and dropping the course. You could explore delaying attendance for a year?
    – Rdd
    Nov 4, 2021 at 9:19
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    Where do you live/what citizenship do you have? If you need a student visa, it may be against the terms of the visa to study remotely. In this case there is really nothing the university can do (but they should have explained that to you). Nov 4, 2021 at 12:36

2 Answers 2


How do I change British university's mind?

Speaking as somebody in a Swedish university that's currently in the process of "going back to campus", you most likely can't. Even if individual teachers or program managers are sympathetic to your concerns, whether to allow students to study remotely (and if yes, under what conditions and for how long) is generally a political process that is decided high up in university administration, and they will not make judgements on individual student cases. If the policy of your university is that all students need to study from campus, it's likely nothing you say will make them make an official exception for you.

Inofficially, it may be possible to take individual courses remotely. Especially during the transition period, many teachers will likely be acutely aware that some students have valid reasons (health or otherwise) for avoiding campus for the moment, and most universities really don't have all that much say or insight into how individual teachers design and run their courses (so many teachers at the moment choose course designs that can also be done remotely, if feasible for the course). That said, this will likely be entirely inofficial, so you'll have little right to demand accomodations or complain if, for instance, a hybrid course is more difficult to follow remotely than if you were in class. I would also expect that this degree of teacher understanding will wane over time, due to the COVID situation improving but also due to people accepting these issues as the "new normal".

Their refusal unnerves me, because university's Health Centre is overwhelmed. It takes months to book one appointment. I heard from friends they can see you just at most twice each term. I am cared much better at home. I prefer my psychiatrist who knows me well. My parents want me stay at home so they can care me. They don't want me to fall into suicide ideation.

I really, really sympathise with this concern, but it may be time to consider whether interrupting your studies is not the more productive way to protect your mental health than trying to wring out an official exception from a university that is probably under significant political pressure to return to normal studies as soon as possible.

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    I'm at a UK university, and this answer is spot-on for us, too.
    – Arno
    Nov 4, 2021 at 9:56
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    It would also apply completely to my UK university. If you really want to study remotely, the best way is to tell the university you are there, and then negotiate remote accommodation with the department, program head or module lead. You might still be require to be present for exams. Nov 4, 2021 at 14:01
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    I don't think it would at mine, if the students particular extenuating circumstances warranted it. There is are appeals panels (I sit on two of them) who would review the decision and uphold the appeal if the reasoning and evidence were sufficient. However the first step in the appeals procedure is to seek an informal resolution, so the advice to start by talking to the program director is very good advice. Nov 4, 2021 at 14:19
  • @DikranMarsupial Would an appeals panel really have the power to grant individual students the possibility to study remotely, and how would that work in practice? If some of OP's courses are simply not given as remote or hybrid courses, how would the accomodation work in this case?
    – xLeitix
    Nov 5, 2021 at 16:25
  • @xLeitix I believe so, but it would depend on the merits of the case. Many universities were able to deliver courses remotely last year, so the methods are known. However I'd suggest it would be very unlikely set of circumstances, simply because most U.K. universities offer support for students with mental health issues and COVID concerns might also be addressed by a break in studies. I can't say what an appeal panel would do, just suggesting that the procedure could be used (and to get advice in making the case). Nov 5, 2021 at 18:53

Your University will almost certainly have a formal appeals procedure that can be used to appeal against academic and procedural decisions, such as this. There should be on-line information on the forms and procedures for this process on the university website. The student union is likely to be able to provide advice and support. Whether an appeal is successful depends on the reasons for making the appeal and the documentary evidence you can provide.

Nobody can say what the chances of success are without knowing the detailed reason, which you should certainly not post here! I would suggest though that saving money is unlikely to be regarded as a sufficient reason. If you do want to study from home, I think e.g. the Open University would be a much better bet as they are specifically set up for that purpose (so you are less likely to disadvantage yourself by not being on campus). You might want to consider a transfer instead?

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    Note that when I last interacted with faculty there, Open University did have face to face tutorial sessions that were fairly local to the students using local tutors. It is one of the ways they achieve high quality. I don't know if it continues, but suspect it does in some form.
    – Buffy
    Nov 4, 2021 at 21:55
  • thanks. i know there's an appeals procedure. but i have to give them new reasons. repeating myself is not effective. what new reasons can i convince them?
    – user148927
    Nov 5, 2021 at 3:53
  • @cielo it depends on the nature of the appeals process, but it could be that additional evidence in support of the same reasons would be sufficient. It would be a good idea to seek advice from the student union or from you academic adviser (or both). Nov 5, 2021 at 7:47

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