‘A degree should not be looked at as just a transaction’: LUSU react to Patrick’s story

‘The university is morally wrong to deny someone their degree’

Lancaster’s public and students have expressed outrage in response to the university’s handling on the situation of ex-student Patrick Ete.

Ete was a student at Lancaster University 2013-2016, and despite being the only student to achieve a first class in mechatronic engineering that year, the university have refused to issue his degree due to the fact that his final year’s funding was not paid by the scholarship foundation that funded Patrick’s university degree.

Comments sections on Facebook are filled with demonstrations of disgust and embarrassment towards the story, and since the Lancaster Tab published his story, a GoFundMe set up to help pay his fees has exceeded £11,300.

The Lancaster Students’ Union BAME officer, Max Kafula, and International Students officer, Yu Hong Goh have responded to the university’s decision to not issue ex-student Patrick Ete his degree until his debt is paid, a decision which will ultimately delay his official graduation for over 70 years.

When asked their feelings on the university’s decision not to issue Patrick’s degree until the debt is paid in full, both Max and Yu Hong had similar responses.

‘The lack of empathy shown by the uni is morally outrageous’

Max believes that the uni’s decision is intrinsically wrong, following up saying: “How can you deny someone their degree due to circumstances outside their control.”

Max also told us that he thinks the GoFundMe is “a wonderful thing to do!” and told us that he “encourage[s] everyone to share and donate so we can help Patrick.”

In addition, he told us that he believes that the public’s reaction towards the uni’s decision is the “right reaction”, and that he is “glad that there is an overall consensus on this issue, that the university is completely in the wrong.”

Max finished up by telling us that going forward the university have one clear option. He said: “Give him his degree.”

‘A degree should not be looked at as just a transaction’

Yu Hong also has a similar view on the situation.

She said: “It is appalling to say the least. A University is first and foremost a place to nurture students and to allow us to grow into better people.”

Elaborating, Yu Hong said: “For the fortunate few who worked hard and were able to get a scholarship, that should be celebrated.”

She believes that it is wrong to “throw” the responsibility of the debt onto Patrick, and told us that, “Many international students came to this university because of its good reputation overseas. We believe that with a degree from the university we can have a brighter future. But in Patrick’s case, it turned even darker.”

Yu Hong told us that it warms her heart to see people stepping up and lending a hand. She said: “It shows that there is still humanity in this world.”

She also sides with the public’s response, saying: “I understand the public’s reactions and agree with them. Especially, when you take into account that other universities with the same problem took a more humane and logical way.”

Yu Hong told us that going forward she believes the university should review their response to Patrick’s situation. She said: “When it comes to exceptional circumstances, each case should be looked at and reviewed in a more friendly manner.

“Rules are there as a guideline for normal circumstances, but rules are also written by humans and therefore should be more humane.”

She finished by saying: “A degree should not be looked at as just a transaction.”

Students’ Union president Oliver Robinson was unavailable for a direct response, but did leave a comment underneath a Facebook post, that read: “The University is closed until next Thursday for Easter, but I’ll make sure we do some digging when we make a return to work. Fundamentally not the sort of community we should want to build here in Lancaster”, showing his support.

When asked for comment, the university responded: “We cannot comment on individual cases but we are aware of Patrick’s case and will be investigating fully.”

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