University policy u-turn
Words Tom Foster
The Students’ Union has prevented Sussex University from implementing a policy, which would have resulted in those dropping out of university paying a higher fee than the first termly installment of their tuition fees.
The policy was for undergraduate and postgraduate students who withdrew after three weeks’ enrolment at university.
The previous policy meant that if you left during this period no fee would be incurred, and if you left after you would pay according to the point in the term that you were at.
The department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Student Finance states: ‘universities are expected to charge no higher fee than the tuition loan provided’, and advise splitting the fee instalments into 25%, 25%, 50% of the total tuition loan provided.
Sussex University was planning to set out instalment payments as 33.33%, 33.33%, 33.33%. Under the proposed policy, undergraduate and postgraduate students withdrawing from the university would have to pay a higher fee than their tuition loan per term.
Sussex University have said of these planned installment payments: “Any student who drops out of any university in the UK still has to pay a proportion of their fees, depending on how much tuition they have received. How this is calculated varies from university to university.”
Kelly McBride, Students’ Union President, spoke to the National Union of Students (NUS) about the proposal, and was told that they thought it would be unacceptable for Sussex to pursue the policy.
David Malcolm, head of social policy at NUS, asserted: “We do not believe it is acceptable to shift this financial burden onto students both in the context of such high fee levels, most especially if it affects those in the type of vulnerable situation which necessitates suspension or withdrawal.”
The Director of Finance for Sussex University, after speaking to the Union President, confirmed on 28 September that the policy had been aborted. Fee instalment payments are to remain at 25%, 25%, 50%.
The university have said “At Sussex, we have reviewed our approach in light of the new structure of the academic year and the new fee regime from 2012-13. We have taken on board views of the officers of the Students’ Union”
After it was confirmed the policy was aborted, Kelly stated: “We are glad on this occasion that the University has listened to the Students’ Union, and has taken on board our research on the matter, and has made the changes we wanted to see.”