‘The uni just doesn’t care’: A frustrated international student who wants Lancaster Uni to do more

‘All students are being seriously financially disadvantaged and I’d like the uni to give us some answers’

As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many students feel neglected by Lancaster University and the government. Since the third lockdown was announced, many international students who travelled home for Christmas haven’t able to return to Lancaster and now since the introduction of countries on the “red list”, it is likely that they won’t be able to finish their year in Lancaster.

We spoke to Matilde, an EU student who feels as though her tuition fees are being wasted, and she isn’t getting the education that was sold to her.

“I can’t come back to uni unless I stay in a hotel and pay almost £2000 a week”

Matilde told us: “I have to get a Covid test with a private company and pay huge amounts for flights; money which I don’t have.”Most non-UK students are in other countries, paying upwards of £4,000 a year for rooms which they have no way of going back to, which the uni has not addressed” – this was one of the issues that caused many students to join the rent strike, and withhold their rent from university management.

“The uni has done the bare minimum, so that they tick the boxes”

She explained: “There hasn’t been any genuine support and the real issues haven’t been addressed. Telling us to be patient and saying that we can talk to a stranger on Microsoft Teams isn’t enough.”

Matilde, a Bowland College member, would “ask for the reduction/reimbursement of tuition fees. I am not getting value for money. When I first started my degree, the uni and I entered into a contract and their side has not been fulfilled. International students are paying upwards of £18,000 just for fees and we are not getting our money’s worth.”

“EU/International students have been more neglected than UK students”

“Unlike British students, we don’t have access to maintenance loans so the financial burden falls on us” says Matilde, who feels it is unfair that students are being charged full rent prices and tuition fees.

“When EU/international students apply to study in the UK, they are fully aware of the costs, however we expect a certain value for our money which we are not getting.”

The Politics student added: “Last year, UK students were able to empty their rooms to avoid costly storage charges and to pay these storage costs were the only option available to EU/International students.”

“Many UK students have the option to return to Lancaster if they wish, but I don’t”

Matilde told The Tab Lancaster: “Those UK students who didn’t return to Lancaster always have the option to do so, however EU/International students don’t have that option unless they have money to spare and are willing to spend a huge amount on flights, tests and in my case, £2,000 on a quarantine hotel.”

“The UK students are being prioritised”

“This of course isn’t the students’ fault, but the university’s an educational institution and service provider.” She argues that the blame is entirely on the university, as the university needs to recognise that it has students enrolled from all around the world and needs to do something to help them.

“We feel that there are some ways to ameliorate the situation”

Matilde spoke to other international students and told us: “We think that a more comprehensive portal for non-UK students regarding the constant changes needs to be implemented. This includes more hand-on help with accommodation, by putting pressure on local landlords (by the university) to not be charging us full price for utilities.”

“The uni needs to recognise that not everybody has high-speed internet or the right conditions for online learning. As a collective, we believe that the uni should’ve made an effort with all of its students to ensure that they have what they need.”

“All students are being seriously financially disadvantaged and I’d like the uni to give us some answers”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

‘I’m ashamed of Lancaster’: Students react to the end of the rent strike

EXPLAINED: Lancaster University’s ‘Covid protection’ policies

‘I want to see my friends again’: International students on being away from Lancaster