'I can only afford half the tuition fees'

May 28, 1999

First-year medical student Matthew Bridge said this week he was unable to afford the Pounds 1,000 bill for tuition fees demanded by Leeds University, and he now fears he will be kicked off his course.

He is one of 35 Leeds students with fees outstanding. Thirteen have paid nothing at all and have failed to respond to requests for them to contact the university, and the rest have only paid the bill in part.

Mr Bridge falls into the latter category. He said: "The university has written to me several times demanding the fees and informing me I cannot register next year if the debt is still outstanding. The university regards me as someone who is unwilling to pay, but I can only afford half the bill.

"I have always thought education should be a right, not a privilege, but I am not prepared to become a martyr and lose my place here. I have been doing really well and have passed all my exams. You would think the university would want to keep able students. But it seems that just because I can't afford it, I am not allowed to become a doctor.

"People think medical students are all public-school boys, but many are like me. I can't go to my parents - they are already doing what they can."

A university spokeswoman said: "It is not this university's policy to see students drop out of their courses because of financial problems, and we will help all those in real difficulty. If, next autumn, any student seeking to re-register has an outstanding debt to the university, each case will be considered on its merits."

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