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Students Protest At Fees Exclusion Threat

Students at Coventry University staged a protest in the Vice Chancellor’s office yesterday after being warned that they faced expulsion unless they pay their tuition fees.

Around 100 students have been sent letters threatening them with exclusion unless they pay the outstanding debt of around £1,000.

If they do not pay they will be barred from taking exams, using the library and the university's other facilities.

Coventry University bosses say they are owed around £4 million by students in unpaid fees, fines, and accommodation.

They say unless they can recoup that money the education of the majority who have paid will suffer.

But many claim that they cannot afford it. Since tuition fees were introduced in 1998 students have been means tested for the payment.

People whose family income is under £17,000 are exempted from the charge, and others have to pay a proportion on a sliding scale.

Caroline Campbell, Vice President for Education and Welfare in Coventry University Students’ Union said some people fared badly under the system and had to pay the full amount but had very little money.

Loans have fully replaced the old grants system and the payment is expected to come from this.

Other students have refused to pay the fee for ideological reasons. They argue that education should be free to all.

Students’ union leaders are trying to arrange a meeting with University Vice Chancellor Mike Goldstein to discuss the issue.

Ms Campbell said:

“Some people want to protest by shouting about it but we prefer to try and discuss sitting round a table.

”There have been marches in the past to raise attention to the problem.

“The students’ union is 100 per cent behind the people affected by this, and we want to try and discuss a way of helping them.”

University spokesperson Cyrrhian Macrae said students can pay in five installments and this action is only taken in extreme circumstances to stop the quality of education suffering.

She said:

"We are sympathetic to those that cannot pay and there are hardship funds to help them.

"But we are a business and we cannot afford not to have that money."

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CWN / Education / Universities / Coventry University / 24 May 00

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