Postgrad refuses to pay college fee in standoff


Postgraduate students are refusing to pay the controversial compulsory college fee introduced this academic year.

Stephen Harper, a Masters Electronics student, told Vision, “When I joined the University in 2012 I was told that I would be a member of my college for life.”

Despite choosing to return to York, and Halifax College, to pursue his postgraduate degree Harper was informed he had to pay a £10 membership fee for the privilege.

The college fee is used to pay for social and sporting activities often organised by Junior Common Room Committees adding to the perception of College life as only part of the Undergraduate University experience.

Postgraduate students tend not to get involved in the social activities college membership provides resulting in many feeling as if they are being asked to subsidise the university experience of undergraduates.

Liam O’Connor, another postgraduate student said: I told them I’ve never used any of the facilities the fees are for, so they’ve stopped asking me for it.”

The Academic Registrar, Kate Dodd, refused to allow postgraduate students to be unaffiliated with a college.

Julia Hampshire, Dodd’s PA, said: “Colleges are a really important part of student life at York.”

David Duncan, University Secretary and Registrar, said: “We will evaluate how effective it has been at the end of the year, but the signs so far are that the new arrangements have helped to increase the range of services and support the colleges can provide.”

In response to being told the fee would count as an “unpaid debt” on his student record if he refused to pay up, Harper said: “Oh yeah wow throw the word debt to scare students into paying the bulls**t fee you made up.”

Non-affiliation with a college would be an unprecedented event in the entire history of the University.

The Academic Registrar does not have the authority to change University rules, either on college affiliation or on the membership fee.

Any change of the rules is not known to be being considered by the University.

Harper is yet to pay the fee.

9 thoughts on “Postgrad refuses to pay college fee in standoff

  1. “The college fee is used to pay for social and sporting activities often organised by Junior Common Room Committees adding to the perception of College life as only part of the Undergraduate University experience” – says who?

    The college free pays for a team of dedicated staff and postgraduate tutors, who provide 1-t-1 support for ALL students, regardless of where they live or whether they’re undergrads or postgrads. Not a bad deal for a tenner a year!

  2. It is a bad deal when they already charge £9000 a year. If they’re struggling to get enough funding together for college activities then they need to rethink distribution of our tuition fees

  3. Ahaha Anon it’s the the point of it being a tenner (tho I’d rather have a couple of courtyard burgers than that).
    It’s that they introduced this fee for people who are already members of colleges. And that with the precedent of a fee you can’t opt out of, there’s nothing to stop it rising and rising and moving to other services that used to be free to students.

    Everyone I know on JCRCs thinks the fee is wank.

  4. It might just be £10 for him, but when we all pay that, the University make a small fortune… First years pay £30, that’s just short of £150,000 coming in every year, before you even add on postgrads. That’s actually a lot of money.

    Where is this money is actually going? It’s either paying for something which used to be funded centrally, or being wasted. I am yet to see any obvious change or improvement to my college.

    Maybe if it was better spent, and more transparent, we wouldn’t have to be drilled about how important the colleges are all the time, because we’d see it for ourselves.

  5. Students already pay tuition fees and the majority of those who access college support live on campus and pay extremely high rents, so a tenner it may be, but it is still a rip off.

    The real rip-off however is what the money is really about and that is the completely ridiculous shake-up of the college system that the Academic Registrar and former PVC for Students cooked up after a nonsense junket to the States where they visited a number of universities to see how things are done. This involved taking student support ideas from small, religious colleges and returning with inspired ideas such as undergraduate book and cookery clubs run by tutors.

    But the real pressure on cash in colleges is a direct consequence of installing Heads and Assistant Heads of Colleges to replace Provosts and Deans. Deans worked for accommodation and Provosts for a combination of contract buy-out and accommodation/living allowance. They were all academic members of staff with Provosts being senior members of staff. they were in a position to speak with authority and help students connect their academic and college life whilst signposting them in the right direction when support was needed.

    Of course it didn’t always work; plenty of awful Provosts and Deans with terrible judgement were appointed (and in some cases then reappointed to the Head of College roles despite their judgement known to be poor). There is also only so far students will respond and relate to people in such positions.

    But the Assistant Head of Deans that replaced the Provosts as de-facto college leaders are nearly all poorly-qualified non-academics with limited genuine experience of student support. In one case the ASSHoC was initially turned down as he didn’t have the requisite experience required only to be appointed when another vacancy unexpectedly opened up a week later.

    Why is this important? Well these are Grade 7 roles (the same as a Lecturer) on a minimum of £35k (plus all the on-costs to the University). Conservatively you are looking at £500k every year across the nine colleges. And what have these AssHoCs provided for all this? A couple of extra poorly attended college events each year.

    The University recognised the need to invest more in student support, but owing to appalling leadership and decision making by the former PVC for Students and the Academic Registrar, rather than extra support for the ODT we got these over-paid, pointless college busy-bodies.

    And now students are being asked to subsidise them.

    If Vision really wanted to do a bit of investigative journalism there’s a few great stories in all that

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