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Statement on the Exclusion of Students – most of whom are international – during the COVID 19 Crisis

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The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) is concerned by the general lack of empathy from Universities across the UK in supporting students who have been struck by financial hardship amid this global crisis.

There has been a disturbing trend of universities demanding immediate payment of tuition fees from their students, or otherwise face exclusion and the revocation of their Tier 4 Visas. To date, thousands of students have been threatened by their Universities, many of whom are Muslim. It is likely that many more have been affected but not come forward.

Universities owe a duty towards the wellbeing of these students; many of whom have lost their source of income, whether that be due to the loss of their jobs or because their countries of origin have entered into an economic crisis; meaning that their families are unable to provide them financial support at this time.

The continued financial burdens imposed on students by their universities have put many students in emotional distress. Many of these students have caring responsibilities for minors, have found themselves homeless or are relying on foodbanks from local mosques and charities for their meals. The fear of being deported or excluded from their course has triggered many students to suffer from mental health issues, with many reporting suicidal thoughts. 

We are gravely concerned by the universities such as the University of East London for not taking a more empathetic and understanding approach to this crisis. We strongly condemn the University of East London’s decision to exclude students who have not been able to clear their debts by the 15th of July, and for revoking the visas of international students who find themselves in payment arrears on this date. 

We recognise that universities are under financial pressure at this time, however, £280 Million of government funding has been granted accordingly to UK universities and teaching institutions. The “business” needs of the university should in no way come at the expense of the safety and welfare of students.

We are pleased that some UK universities have agreed payment holidays of over 6 months for students in a similar position, we are therefore imploring the University of East London and all other UK universities to follow suit.

We are seeking a written commitment from the University of East London and all other UK Universities acting similarly to: 

  • Stop threatening students with exclusions for payment arrears.
  • Not to revoke the Visa of any student who is in payment arrears – whether it be a sole or contributory factor to their exclusion. 
  • Push back payment deadlines for all students.
  • Further, consider the needs of individual students.

We urge you to offer a realistic payment plan that is in the best interest of your students.

It is crucial that ALL UK universities take into consideration the plight of every single student affected by this pandemic to ensure that best practices are being followed and the safety and wellbeing of all students are safeguarded.