UoN medicine student raises over £11,000 to help pay for tuition

Her fellow students have come together to support her during this difficult time

A campaign has raised over £11,000 for UoN student, Sola Abigail, after she found that she was unable to pay her tuition fees due to her family’s reduced income because of the pandemic.

The international student, from Java, Indonesia, who studies in Nottingham, typically relies on her family’s farm in Indonesia and her part-time job to pay her course fees. Since the pandemic, she has struggled to pay the university’s funds; so her friend set up a GoFundMe page, in order to support her.

Sola has had her degree completely disrupted by COVID-19, and now, since she is struggling to pay her fees, the university are threatening to cut off her IT and library access. Students are coming together to support her through tweets, open letters to department heads, and even a successful fundraiser.

This year has been hard to say the least, for a lot of us, paying £9250 a year seems completely unjustified. For international students, paying more than that for just one semester now seems completely unreasonable. The pandemic has completely changed the landscape of paying such large sums, leaving it a complete minefield.

The Tab Nottingham asked Sola some questions, to help shed some light on her experience at Notts.

Q: Hi Sola, could you please explain a little bit about your situation?

So I had agreed with the university that I would pay the first instalment of my tuition fees in December, and January, but unfortunately I was still unable to do this, so I had until February the 2nd. If I didn’t, they would restrict my online, and library access, like Moodle, and Echo. Shortly after that date, however, I have an exam, as well as a viva for my dissertation. If this restriction is put in place, I won’t be able to do them. Due to my financial situation, I wouldn’t be able to pay these fees until later in the month. I’ve clearly communicated a lot of this to the Finance Department, but they’re completely unwilling to communicate back.

Q: And how did they initially contact you?

They sent an automated email to me, but I haven’t heard anything from them since November, until an email saying my IT services will be restricted. They really take their time to get back to me, I’ve sent so many to try and talk to them, but I haven’t received a response.

Q: Do you feel like they’ve left you enough time to sort it out?

I know that this is a very unprecedented time, so what I thought might have been enough time to sort it out, really hasn’t been. I will be able to pay the fees; I just can’t at the moment, and they don’t want to move on their original date, which I don’t understand, considering I’m not exactly receiving the support I deserve in the first place. They’re not providing a lot of the services that they were promising, so it’s not exactly like I’m exploiting the uni without paying for it.

Q: What about the emotional impact of this.  How has it left you feeling?

Stressed isn’t even close. When people are asking me how I am, I just say that I’m fine, because how do you explain this? It’s indescribable! Especially before the GoFundMe was set up, it felt like I was alone against the entire university. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I feel close to giving up. What’s worse is that it’s this situation, on top of every other exam, and my part time job. It’s really not a great place to be. I only ask that if anyone is in the same boat, please, please reach out to me because you’re not alone in this!

Q: Do you think it’s impacting your degree?

The viva is an important presentation which is due just before the cut-off point. It’s really important that I pass this, because if I don’t, I don’t get onto the clinical phase of my degree. Due to this, I’ve spent so much time writing letters, and emails, which has taken away from time I could be revising and preparing.

Q: Even with you trying to communicate with them, has the University offered any reasonable solution?

Yes, and no. They seem to have the easiest task in opening a dialogue and finding a solution, but they’re not doing anything. There’s no financial aid for tuition fees, and there’s very little for international students, and what actually does exist is very country-specific. Unfortunately, there’s nothing from my home country. I was offered a deferral from the university, but I don’t see how that’s remotely a solution, after I completed so many exams, written so much of my dissertation, and spent so many years here. The only proper help, really, has been from students! It’s been so unexpected, but it’s been absolutely incredible, and I really appreciate it because it’s been a really tough time for everyone this year, and still everyone has decided to support this.

Currently, the GoFundMe has already raised over £11,000 in 3 days towards Sola’s cause, and you can donate to Sola’s GoFundMe here. You can also join the Nottingham Student’s Assembley here, where you can find resources for open letters to department heads, as well as petitions for better support from the university.