University confronted over international fees
Delegations of students have been in meetings with the University of Sussex Head of Finance, Allen Spencer, to discuss the hike in international student tuition fees before the term.
At one meeting that took place just before Christmas, Mr Spencer was asked whether the affected students at least deserved to be personally notified about the rise by the University in advance. He responded by asking the student delegation to leave.
Fees have risen five percent for international students, meaning research students were expected to come up with an additional £750.
Beatrice Chateauvert-Gagnon, an international second year student studying for a PhD in International Relations who attended the discussion, said: “It makes it very stressful for the future: should I go on with my PhD or should I quit now in case I can’t afford to stay?”
At the meeting with SU officials, the Post Graduate Association Chair Andrea Brock and international students, it has been claimed that Mr Spencer emphasised that there was “no discussion about this year’s hike”.
An attendee at the meeting said: “The discussion was a joke. It reflected very well the way senior management treats its students.”
Those that attended the meeting handed over a letter to Mr Spencer demanding the cancellation of the fees rise and a revision of the tuition fee policy. They also sought notification of any increase at least 6 months in advance.
Beatrice Chateauvert-Gagnon added: “A university is not, and should never be a mere business. Humans are not commodities and we don’t buy a PhD like we would pay for a haircut.”
When asked about the meeting and rise in fees, A University of Sussex spokesperson said: “All we can say at the moment is that discussions are ongoing.”
The fees hike was not communicated by letter or email to the affected students and was not posted on the university’s website until August 2014, meaning most students only found out that they had to come up with additional fees when they re-registered online at the beginning of term.
The Students’ Union are working on the international fees hike issue and lack of communication surrounding the change.
Abraham Baldry, President of the Students’ Union, said: “We are working towards the introduction of a new model for international tuition fees. We’re also working to secure refunds some of students who weren’t notified of increases as they should have been.
“I am confident that international students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, will be extremely pleased with the outcome.”
Currently, the rise in fees looks set to happen again for the 2015 intake. The Standard lower rate and foundation year will increase from £13,750 for 2014 to £ 4,450 for 2015. The standard higher rate of £17,000 will increase to £17,850.