Students told pay up or get out

May 4, 2001

Thousands of students at the University of the West of England are being threatened with exclusion over non-payment of tuition fees.

The university has sent letters to 2,400 students saying that if they do not pay up, all access to facilities will be withdrawn.

UWE students' union president Edwin Dyson said the letters had distressed many students.

"The issue that we have is with the way that students have been treated. Although we disagree with the funding system, students have a responsibility to abide by the university regulations," he said.

The students' union is demanding that the university introduce a "transparent, flexible repayment system with support for those students who can't afford to pay", Mr Dyson said.

Rob Cuthbert, UWE's deputy vice-chancellor, said the university had an agreed schedule for collecting fees and that students went through many stages before receiving notice of exclusion.

He said: "The letter these 2,400 students have had is not the last step in the chain. More than half of those have now settled their fees in full, and we have started looking at individual cases."

Mr Cuthbert said the situation at UWE appeared to be particularly bad only because other institutions made their students pay fees by direct debit. "We are running a more sympathetic regime," he said.

Students at other universities are campaigning against expulsion of those who have not paid their tuition fees. A protest was planned in Derby yesterday with more than a thousand students expected to attend.

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