This motion comes at a time when a growing number of international students have had their student status’ revoked because they are unable to pay their tuition fees.
Vince Cable and David Willetts sent a letter earlier this week to the president of Universities UK calling for university Vice Chancellors to defer fees to Syrian students and to provide access to hardship funds.
However the motion put to council emphasised that access to the funds would not be enough; students, and their personal tutors, are not aware of the services available.
“It’s ultimately unrealistic for anybody to meet the conditions of the fund… I watched my friend go through torture”.
The motion resolves to “build a stronger relationship with the International Office and to ascertain how many international students have had their funding streams disrupted”.
Last year’s President of the Islamic Society, Shehroze Khan, outlined the motion in council with reference to Impact’s recent article investigating Syrian students struggling to finance their degree.
Shehroze told Impact he put forward the motion partly due to his own experience with an Egyptian student who sought his help last year.
He said that he had to watch his friend “get thrown around from office to office [in the University]… he had no idea where to go.”
Despite having reports from doctors that he was in an unstable mental state due to the financial and emotional stress, the University refused to continue his funding.
Students can meet with the International Office on an individual basis to appeal for financial assistance as part of the Alumni Crisis Fund. However Shehroze said that, “the conditions are so impossible that it’s ultimately unrealistic for anybody to meet the conditions of the fund… I watched my friend go through torture.”
Despite having reports from therapists and doctors that he was in an unstable mental state due to the financial and emotional stress placed on him by the conflict in his home country, the University refused to continue his funding.
“Essentially he didn’t have any money, he didn’t have a place to live and all he wanted was to try and continue his PhD and get hold of funding. If he wasn’t eligible for the Alumni Crisis fund then I don’t know who would be.”
Shehroze also noted that as a PhD student, all this student would have needed was access to a lab to do research; unlike undergraduate degrees a PhD is an entirely personal effort.
“If he wasn’t eligible for the Alumni Crisis fund then I don’t know who would be”.
A potential solution Shehroze suggested was to follow other universities around the country, where they continue funding but withhold awarding the degree until the tuition fee has been paid.
The Union will also “engage with the University and find a solution on how best to help all international students affected by conflict.”
Shehroze was mostly outraged at the University’s treatment of the student especially in meetings with staff members, which Shehroze attended. “My blood was boiling… he was so unsupported by the University”.
A similar motion is also being brought to the National Union of Students Conference next month. Although the motion still needs to be ratified when council is next quorate, as an NUS delegate, Shehroze will go to the Conference with the support of UoN’s Student Union behind him.
Image: Beshroffline via Flickr