Rays of light for students despite motion eclipse

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Student representatives have announced that they have gained some key concessions from the University on postgraduate and international tuition fees at University Council today. The resolutions made at Council, the governing body of Lancaster University, were met with satisfaction by Union representatives, despite the fact that both student-endorsed Court motions were cast aside by the Council.

Among the headline concessions was the intention by the University to set international and postgraduate tuition fees several years in advance, allowing students to gauge how much their entire education at Lancaster will cost. Currently, international undergraduate students and postgraduates on degree schemes which are of several years duration can expect to see their tuition fees to increase by an unknown amount each year, meaning they could end up paying much more in the final year of their degree than the first. In other UK universities the international and postgraduate tuition fees are set several years in advance to notify prospective students as to what they will be paying in their second or third years, rather than just the first. The University has promised to follow suit.

This announcement was also joined by several other concessions to Lancaster students. The University has already announced that two new alumni scholarships will be awarded to Lancaster graduates, with a 20% fee reduction for Lancaster graduates with a first-class degree and a 10% fee reduction for Lancaster graduates with a 2:1. In addition, 50 data science masters will have a 50% fee reduction, while the University is making £660,000 available for postgraduate bursaries for students from a low opportunities background.

Other concessions included greater student consultation when taking decisions regarding tuition fees.

The student representatives on University Court – President Laura Clayson and Colin Mang – told SCAN that they were happy that the relationship between the Union and the University had “taken a positive turn,” despite the fact that they did not get everything they asked for.

“The University has expressed a willingness to work with us on a number of issues,” Mang said. “This includes further representation in the future setting of tuition fees and rents on campus.

“It’s still a tough fight; it’s still something that folks next year are going to have to push for, but we are making significant gains.”

Clayson said that the concessions at Council were “the outcome of a lot of people’s hard work. Thank you to all of the students who have been involved.”

However, the jubilation of gaining some concessions was stymied by the fact that neither of the student-endorsed University Court motions were passed in Council. The motions, which were passed in Court on Saturday Week 3, sought to urge the University to reconsider the decision to increase tuition fees for international and postgraduate students, as well as the increase in on-campus rent, and to urge the University to consider the abolition of search committees for the college principal appointments, placing more responsibility with the college syndicates. When it came to passing the motions in Council both failed – indeed, it is believed that the Chair of Council, Pro-Chancellor Lord Roger Liddle, rejected both motions without taking either to a vote. This means that the current tuition fee and rent increases will go ahead.

VP (Campaign and Communications) Ronnie Rowlands said that while he was happy the Union had gained some concessions, he was disappointed that neither motion was passed in Council. “[The fact that the University] believe that it is absolutely necessary to press on with the tuition fee and rent increases is baffling,” Rowlands said.

A full report will be available shortly.

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