The leader of the Lib Dems has called on Gavin Williamson to resign

Gavin Williamson is "the worst education secretary in living memory," said the Liberal Democrat leader, calling for more support for students starting the new university semester online.

Ed Davey called on the government to reimburse students financially for courses interrupted by Covid-19, which forced most online teaching in England until at least mid-February.

Students have previously told The independent one They thought they deserved a tuition refund as coronavirus stops face-to-face learning and prevents them from using campus facilities as normal.

Michelle Donelan, the university's minister, said higher education institutions are responsible for their own fees and must maintain the quality, quantity and accessibility of tuition fees in order to proceed in full.

But Mr Davey told the BBC Andrew Marr Show Any reimbursement should be paid by the government, not the universities.

"I think the government really disappointed the universities, it frankly disappointed the schools," he said on Sunday.

"I mean the Gavin Williamson fiasco, how he mistreated this whole crisis for our children, youth and students – that's why I asked him to resign."

The Lib Dem leader added, "I think he is the worst education secretary we have had in living memory."

When England went into lockdown, university students were told to stay where they were – while many were still in family houses for Christmas – unless they were enrolled in certain courses that required face-to-face tuition, such as medicine and denial .

In the past few weeks, many universities have waived rent or offered refunds due to lockdowns, mostly for students in university accommodation that is off campus.

There are also a growing number of rent strikes – many organized before the lockdown began – for this semester at universities across the country as students demand more support.

The National Union for Students has requested that all student tenants be reimbursed and given the opportunity to leave the tenancy early.

"If universities and landlords need financial support to do this, government must step in," said Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, vice president of higher education.

A spokesman for the Department of Education (DfE) said, “This has been a very difficult time for students and we encourage universities and accommodation providers to review their accommodation policies to ensure they are fair, transparent and focus on the well-being of students . ”

They added, “The government will continue to prioritize a full return to education as soon as possible.

"We recently announced up to £ 20 million to help students who are most in need of assistance in these exceptional circumstances, such as those struggling with housing costs due to the pandemic. In addition to the existing £ 256 million we can Universities help students. ""

Following Ms. Donelan's comments, the DfE spokeswoman said that the universities are responsible for the fees, but the government "clear" quality, academic standards and tuition fees should not fall.

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