Magazine article Times Higher Education

Degree Withheld in Fees Dispute

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Degree Withheld in Fees Dispute

Article excerpt

Graduate is determined not to pay Worcester for 'inadequate' MSc tuition. Paul Jump reports

A student who refused to pay some of her course fees because she believes her tuition was inadequate has condemned the university for withholding her certificate until she pays.

The student, who does not want to be named, enrolled on the University of Worcester's two-year MSc in nutritional therapy in 2011. All went well in her first year. However, she believes the tuition she received in her second year was inadequate.

Although she passed the course after resubmitting her dissertation, she told the university she was willing to pay only half of the second year tuition fee of just over £3,000. Worcester then declined her requests to release her degree certificate.

In a letter to the student last July, John Ryan, university secretary and pro vice-chancellor for students, wrote: "The fact that you completed your course successfully [entails that] the university discharged its responsibilities for supporting you to a successful conclusion of your course." But as "a goodwill gesture" he offered to reduce the amount the student owed by 25 per cent.

When the student refused the offer, the university sought repayment of the full amount through the small claims court.

The student meanwhile sought her certificate via a subject access request, which allows individuals to request all information institutions hold on them. But in its response Worcester said it would "continue to withhold your certificate pending settlement of your outstanding debt". …

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