Privations of the private college student

March 10, 1995

Mek Weerakoon's letter on student grants and funding (THES, March 3) was particularly poignant since each week I and my college registrar have to meet with distraught students and discuss their serious and not infrequently terminal financial situations.

As a "private" institution, the British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy not only finds its students in the same dire financial plight as those of Mek Weerakoon but our students also have to pay 85 per cent of their own fees. The current fees banding for "private" institution funding allocates Pounds 840 per annum towards tuition. The fees for our four-year full-time BSc (Hons) in osteopathic medicine are Pounds 5,300 per annum. Each student must therefore supplement their maintenance expenses in the same way as those students referred to by Mek Weerakoon, but must also find Pounds 16,400 to pay fees.

This situation is the same for all "private" higher educational institutions. We belong to an organisation, the Council for Independent Colleges and Research Institutions, which represents a cross-section of educational interest from complementary medicine to agriculture to theology to drama, performing arts and industry.

All of our students are suffering considerable hardship to survive financially and they are expected to study to achieve high academic and, in our case, clinical standards in this environment.

We are all working in a very negative political environment to achieve fees funding equality for them.

For those students described by Mek Weerakoon and for all others therefore we have sympathy. However, if they move towards our position rather than us towards theirs in terms of fees structure then, we may assure them, they will be deprived of more than the apparently "lavish" items of clothing, telephone calls and holidays. We, within the "private" institutions, hope rather than trust that our political masters will redress this fees imbalance so that all students are full fees supported. Then students generally will not be exposed to the privations of our students.

I. P. Drysdale

Principal

British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy

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