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Government to prosecute students who dodge tuition loan payments

way of tracking their income and repayments have to be done voluntarily. KU law graduate Alexandra Holek,

said: “Graduates who have taken up the loan, including myself, are the first people who would like to pay back the loan. “The fees are high for anyone who studies in the UK. It is still one of the most popular places for students to study. “The UK needs to maintain that momentum in a way where it does not affect potential or graduate students from choosing to attend universities, in terms of fees and loans conditions.” Holek also explained that in her opinion prosecuting everyone who is unable to meet the repayment requirements is unfair, and explained that many of her fellow graduates could not find jobs in their field, making them unable to reach the £21,000 threshold. The crackdown followed concerns raised by The National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, who called for action to improve the repayment process. As Australia is the most popular destination for debtors, a two-way partnership with the Australian government will share information about non-paying graduates. Trials with Sweden and the Netherlands found 90 per cent of ‘lost’ borrowers. One in five of those have started repayments. According to the report, other Euro-

job and a one per cent pay rise. “Salary increases for most members of University staff are determined at national level through negotiations by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association. “In addition, many University staff are also entitled to a salary increment dependent on their position on their pay scale. The additional value of an increment to an eligible member of staff for 2014/15 is three per cent in addition to the nationally agreed percentage,” the KU spokeswoman said. A report by the University College Union (UCU) said that the average Vice Chancellor’s salary was about this year £275,000. UCU’s report said that most university bosses had an increase of 3 per cent last year but that 27 heads got a 10 per cent increase. “According to the most recent published figures, the salary for Kingston University’s Vice Chancellor is below the national average for heads of higher education institutions,” added a KU spokeswoman. Weinberg has seen an increase of 12.6 per cent the last four years.

KU Vice Chancellor Julius Weinberg

Alexandra Pedersen THE Government has pledged to track and prosecute graduates who fail to pay back their tuition loans. Jo Johnson, the Universities Minister, said that more and more loans were being issued each year and it was vital that the repayment system worked efficiently and was convenient for borrowers. Johnson said in a written statement to the Commons: “We will do more to support borrowers who seek to meet their loan repayment obligations, and, in the interests of fairness to both the taxpayer and to borrowers that meet their obligations, we will be tougher on those who do not. “We will take stronger action to trace borrowers including those overseas, act to recover loan repayments where it is clear that borrowers are seeking to avoid repayment, consider the use of sanctions against borrowers who breach loan repayment terms and, if necessary, prosecute.” UK students who took out loans after 2012 start repayments when they earn £21,000 a year or more, and if working within the UK, the repayments are paid directly through their employers. Students who move abroad after graduating, or EU students also eligible for a loan who return home after their studies, may be slipping through the

Universities Minister Jo Johnson gap, critics warn. They may be avoiding repaying their loans, as the UK government has no


pean countries are expected to join the programme. The Student Loans Company is hoping that debt collection services and “tracing agencies” will increase repayments. Another KU graduate, Fran Williams who studied fine art, said that she still does not know if she is paying back her loan yet or not. She added that there would be no reason to avoid returning the money as the amount to pay each month is considerably small. She explained that some students would be unable to study at university without a loan, and prosecution for failing to repay it could mean fewer people would apply. “To be prosecuted for education, which I feel is something that has no price tag and should belong to everyone, makes no sense,” Williams said. Currently, £8.3bn of student loans are outstanding. A total of 98 per cent are believed to be held by graduates working in the UK, but 123,000 of the Student Loans Company’s borrowers live overseas. A Student Loans Company spokesperson said: “Not all unverified borrowers will owe money. While some do, others may not be working, may be in receipt of benefits, not earning enough to repay or may be between jobs.”

Law students may be priced out of barrister careers

Vice Chancellor’s income up by 3.8 per cent in 2015-2016 academic year

Jonas Solgård

Martine Berg Olsen

LAW students starting university this year could be forced to pay up to £127,000 to qualify as barristers. The new chair of the Bar Council, Chantal-Aimée Doerries, said that she was concerned that the large sums could reverse the effect of trying to improve diversity within the legal profession. She said: “The cost of qualifying creates a huge social mobility challenge, which is why we have developed initiatives such as bar placement week and mentoring programmes to encourage able students from non-privileged backgrounds to set their sights on a career at the bar.” Doerries’ calculation is based on an undergraduate who does a nonlaw degree followed by law school and then a bar profession training course qualification. It is assumed that all this happens in London. The figure also includes cost of living, accomodation and tuition fees.

KU’s Vice Chancellor saw an increase of 3.8 per cent in his salary from last year while most KU staff got just a one per cent rise. Julius Weinberg got an inflation bursting pay rise of £8,000 for the academic year 2013-14 to 2014-15. A KU spokeswoman said: “As is the normal practice for higher education institutions, the Vice Chancellor’s salary is determined by the University’s Board of Governors. “The Board’s remuneration committee makes its decision taking into account a range of factors, including the financial challenges facing the sector as a whole and the overall pay awards made to staff at the University.” Julius Weinberg went from £206,000 in the academic year 2013-14 to £214,000 in 2014-15. University figures show that overall salary increases for Kingston University staff in 2013-2014. That included a three per cent annual increment based on experience in the

Kingston University

The River Issue 85