Coventry University told to reconsider graduation ban policy

By Sharon Matambanadzo

Coventry_University_squareCoventry University is one of the Universities across Britain being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading for potentially breaching consumer law guidelines by not allowing students to graduate if they have outstanding debts.

The Office of Fair Trading has issued a crack down on universities with regards to it policies on banning students who owe fees, other than tuition fees, from graduating.  They say that such policies could be a breach of consumer law and therefore universities should rethink their positions on the matter.

Coventry University among other UK universities routinely stops students from progressing on the next year and in some cases from graduating if they owe non-tuition fee debts such as, accommodation fees, library fees and even childcare fees. Students argued that such measures are “disproportionate”.

Students feel that this is unfair considering the fact that “you have worked hard for you grade and then to be told you cant graduate because of a library fee is just ridiculous” Coventry Student, Connor Steward, 20

It seems the governments Office of Fair Trade shares these concerns in saying that “Preventing progression or graduation not only affects students’ educational experience but could also significantly harm their future employment prospects and ability to pay off debts.” Nisha Arora,OFT

Universities would argue that this is only a small requirement compared to those who are required to pay off their tuition fee debts before they are even enrolled into the universities, for example overseas students. However, there are still particular issues with sanctions being imposed over small amounts of money, which could other wise be settled later on.

NUS vice president, Colum McGuire said, “It’s almost laughable that students who are in thousands of pounds of tuition fee debt were having academic sanctions placed on them for money owed for non-academic debt.”

The general feeling is that these sanctions are unfair, however the OFT say that this warning is just the start and no action can be put into place until the investigation proves that some consumer law was broken.

Coventry University insists that these measures are only exercised as a last resort where no other option is available. A spokesperson for the university said “We provide continued support and advice to students to mitigate any risk of non graduation, and in special circumstances we’re happy to give individual consideration to cases.”

Sources: Coventry Telegraph, BBC News


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