First class Lancaster student faces 73-year wait until he officially graduates

The body which funded Patrick’s education collapsed before paying all his fees, leaving him in the lurch

A former Lancaster University student faces a 73-year wait until he can receive his degree transcripts and certificates.

Nigerian international student Patrick Ete achieved a first in Mechatronic Engineering in 2016 through a scholarship issued to him by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA).

However, his certificates and transcript have been withheld following a change in government in Nigeria and the scholarship organisation’s collapse. This meant his third year fees were unpaid, and the responsibility of paying the fees fell to him.

Patrick is currently paying £20 a month towards the £17,410 he owes the uni, meaning that he isn’t set to officially graduate until 2093.

Patrick Ete during his time at Lancaster University

Patrick and his fellow 2016 graduates attempted to appeal to the RSSDA to settle the debt on many occasions, but they received no response.

Patrick told The Lancaster Tab: “This was really hard on me because I come from a really poor background. I was struggling with life before I eventually got awarded this scholarship after a series of exams and interviews.

“Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have been able to afford university education back home, let alone a UK higher education.”

On numerous occasions, Patrick has also appealed to the university to ask if he can pay off his debt in instalments. The uni has said his degree will not be issued until the debt is paid in full, which at the current rate of progress, won’t be for 73 years.

An email from Lancaster University to Patrick

Without his degree, Patrick has been forced to pass up on many opportunities.

He said: “I was depressed, but I still persevered and strived to achieve a first-class degree. I was the only student that graduated with a first-class degree in mechatronic engineering in 2015/16.

“I had funded opportunities to do postgraduate courses, but I couldn’t because the uni had withheld my degree.”

Patrick also informed us how he must work “petty jobs” to earn enough money to pay £20 a month.

He attempted to suggest a payment plan to the uni that would allow him to pay off his debt in return for them issuing his degree.

The uni again responded by telling him that without paying his debt, he could not receive anything.

An email sent from Lancaster University to Patrick

Although Patrick wasn’t the only one to receive this scholarship, it seems he is alone in his predicament.

Kelechi Maduewesi, who also graduated in 2016, told The Lancaster Tab that the University of Essex agreed to issue his degree after making an appeal in 2019 and considering the exceptional circumstances at hand.

Another student, Barile Zinah, secured her degree from Nottingham Trent University after agreeing on a payment plan of £1/month.

Patrick told The Lancaster Tab: “Those institutions understood how sad the situation is. And that it wasn’t entirely the student’s fault and have released certificate and transcripts to those students.”

Now, Patrick continues to pay off his debt in monthly instalments, and a friend of his has recently set up a GoFundMe in an attempt to be able to receive his degree sooner.

The RSSDA are unavailable for comment as the organisation no longer exists.

Lancaster University declined to comment on the situation.

Related articles recommended by this writer

‘We are committed to free speech’: Transphobic Lancfessions reborn posts continue

LUSU president condemns ‘stomach-churningly disgusting’ posts on Lancfessions

Lancaster students share mixed feelings towards The Sugarhouse renaming