In Other News

RCA NFT / ETH

Wed 31 Mar 2021
 

Guide to withholding fees

Across the country, the pressure is mounting for the Government to bail out universities and give a fee rebate to students left disadvantaged by Covid-19. RCASU is joining this action, with our own students organising a Fee Strike.

RCASU is committed to supporting and guiding students who partake in the Fee Strike. We also understand that not everyone is able or willing to participate in it - this is a decision of every individual student. If you are unable to withhold your fees at this time, please be aware that you can still show your support through the resources below.

 

Petitions

Read RCA Action Group's Open Letter and sign your support

International fee-paying students

Home & EU fee-paying students

You can support students who are fee striking by signing these

Nationwide Petitions:

Require universities to refund for practical courses year 20/21 due to COVID-19

Reduce University student tuition fees from £9250 to £3000

 

Open letters

Read our letter to the Vice Chancellor's Office. We are awaiting guidance on publishing their response.

RCA Action Group has written an Open Letter to Paul Thompson. This has now formulated the first stage of a large group complaint. They are expecting a response from them soon

 

FAQ

What is the SU doing?

The Co-presidents have taken proactive steps by contacting other small and specialist universities to seek a mobilised response, by attending RCA Action Group, NUS, and Pause or Pay meetings and, by holding discussions with Senior Management. Senior Management has now set up meetings with all student representatives across the College to discuss general issues. 

We have held two Town Halls over the last month. Log in to read the minutes and check your emails for future Town Hall invitations.

We are hosting an International Students Town Hall on 9 Feb, 4 pm with Unis Resist Border Controls and their immigration solicitor, who will be able to advise students on Visas in light of their suspension and other issues pertaining to those with an international fee status. The Town Hall is open to both EU and non-EU international students.

 

What are the students doing?

Several students are choosing to withhold their fees today. Students who aren’t in a position to do this have the option to support the Fee Strike in other ways (see the top of this article). We are proud to represent our students, who have immediately begun organising towards fee reimbursements and other demands at the start of the current lockdown. Petitions, a group formal complaint, and student meetings are taking place.

We will continue to use this article to collate all student action in one place, alerting of anything we add through Instagram and our Newsletter. All student actions will be added to the resource list at the top of the article. 

 

What happens if I withhold my fees?

  • The RCA’s finance team will be alerted about a week after your payment was due. You will be sent a reminder, and then, after another 7 days (14 days in total), a final reminder if the fees remain unpaid. Your HoP may be contacted to help in reminding you to pay. 

  • Upon your suspension, you will lose access to IT accounts and moodle. Your student ID card will also be deactivated. 

  • Any student suspended for 3 weeks is likely to be withdrawn, terminating their studies. In the case of international students, this is likely to mean cancellation of their Visa. These students may encounter serious issues when trying to obtain another Visa. 

  • A suspended student who pays their fees can have their access restored within 72 hours depending on when the payment is made (the system is not automated). 

 

Can you still contact me if I am suspended?

If you have been suspended you should still be able to access your email. However, for ease of contacting the SU and peace of mind, you can add alternative contact details for us to reach you. Please contact your tutors or lecturers to let them know of your alternative contact details. We have been in contact with UCU to ask that unionised lecturers allow students to access teaching regardless of the email address they are using.

Moodle, and your Google Drive, will not be accessible if you are suspended.

 

What is the University doing?

University staff have informed us of the University’s contractual obligation to remain solvent. Therefore, the University will continue online provisions and await further Government guidance.

During the Fee Strike, the University will attempt to instigate as many payments of withheld fees as possible, as these pose issues for the University’s cash flow. The University may contact you by email and phone call, and inform you of the possibility of your suspension should you continue to withhold your fees.

Any withdrawn student will have to re-apply to their course.

The VCO responded to our letter through Registry (but did not give consent to publish this, despite our request for them to respond to the wider student body). Instead, the VCO directs students to a response which has been posted on the Intranet. Further discussions on this will take place during meetings set up by the VC with student representatives.

 

What other actions can I take?

The RCA’s student-run Action Group consistently organises around improving the student experience. You can join their discord page. Follow them on Instagram, sign up to the mailing list.

Pause or Pay is a national cross-university pressure group led by art and design students demanding that creative studies be either refunded or put on hold.

Please keep an eye out for further announcements, as the situation changes quickly and new information and openings for action arise all the time.

 

Are there any changes to the Leave of Absence?

There are no restrictions to Leave of Absence and you have the right to take it at this time: Read RCA's guidance.

Students who are unable to pay fees can use the Leave of Absence to return to their course at a later date in the future, resuming their MA at the point when they have left.

 

What will happen to my visa if I am withholding my fee's?
If the college has to withdraw a suspended student and cancel their sponsorship due to non-payment of fees this has to be reported to the UKVI. Once notified of the curtailment of their Visa by the Home Office, the student would need to make arrangements to leave the UK within 60 days. The compliance officer tends to contact students first before reporting to UKVI in case there is a solution to help the student. When the student re-applies for a Visa thereafter, they may have to undergo a credibility interview and financial checks. This is to ensure they can afford to study in the UK.

It is important that International students whose Visa is curtailed do not stay in the UK for more than the 60 days given to them in their notice; otherwise, they will be recorded as an ‘overstayer’. International students need to bear this in mind as not having a good immigration history may cause difficulties in future applications.

If you have any further specific questions about this do get in touch with Monica Kumwenda, the International Student Adviser. monica.kumwenda@rca.ac.uk

 

Can I make a student complaint, and how does the Fee Strike affect my complaint?
If you are a student who has a complaint against the college, this guidance has been put together to help you understand the complaints procedure as well as the options and support available to you. If you are partaking in the Fee Strike, and have been suspended, it should not prevent you from complaining to your provider, or stop an appeal from progressing through the providers' internal processes – you are still a student or a former student, and therefore ought to be able to complain and appeal outcomes in accordance with the College’s regulations and in line with the OIA's Rules. If you have any questions, issues or concerns regarding this matter, please get in touch with the SU. 
 
 
Can the College charge interest on unpaid fee's?
You may have noticed this stipulated in the College's terms & conditions, specifically stated; “Please also note that the College reserves the right to charge interest on unpaid fees, that debt collection fees may be recovered from you, and also that an administration fee may be charged in respect of dishonoured cheques.” This clause has been in the College's Terms & Conditions for a number of years, and they do reserve the right to do this, however, they weigh up areas of concern such as genuine hardship or mental health concerns before doing so.