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.



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 letter to Paul Thompson 

RCA Action Group is currently drafting this. We will link you to this when it's ready.



What is the SU doing?

The Co-presidents have taken proactive steps, from contacting other small and specialist universities to seek a mobilised response—and attending RCA Action Group, NUS, and Pause or Pay meetings—to holding discussions with Senior Management.

We have organised a Town Hall on 13 Jan 10 - 11.30 am to discuss the short and long term demands of the student body. This is open to all students, and we encourage to join via a Zoom (Meeting ID: 914 0064 1244; Passcode: 823382) 

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 a 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). 


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.

What other actions can I take?

The RCA’s student-run Action Group consistently organises activities with the aim to improve the student experience. Currently, the RCA Action Group Whatsapp has reached its limit for members (257) and is working on freeing up room for more current students to join, as well as creating a mail-out for updates.

Pause or Pay is a national cross-university campaign 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. 

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 the student and cancel their sponsorship due to non-payment of fees this has to be reported to the UKVI.  The student would need to make arrangements to leave the UK within  60days of the notification from the college. The reporting is done after no other avenue has been achieved and the compliance officer tends to contact students first before any reporting to the UKVI just to make sure if there is a solution to help the student. Worst case scenario if they are withdrawn due to non-payment of fees. When the student re-applies for a visa they might have a credibility interview and financial checks to ensure they can afford to study in the UK on a student visa and they need to make sure that they do not stay in the UK more than the 60 days. It is important that international students have a good immigration history as they will be grilled every time they apply for a visa, and it might cause difficulties in future applications if their previous visa has been withdrawn. If you have any further specific questions about this do get in touch with Monica Kumwenda, the International Student Adviser.