Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, has seen the successful outcome of a serious and ongoing case.
Melissa, a constituent currently studying at Teesside University, was told upon her university offer by student finance that, as she was studying social work, she was entitled to full fee and maintenance support for the full three years of her degree. This followed her being given conflicting information by student finance, which she was informed was incorrect. Melissa passed her exams and accepted her place at the university and continued to work part time and care for her two young children and family as she began her studies.
However, upon starting her degree she was suddenly informed that, as it was her second degree, she was entitled to only a maintenance loan and would have to pay the full cost of the fees herself, with the university stating that the decision to award her full support had been made incorrectly. Melissa was then unable to reach student finance and was told she would not be able to make an appeal.
Richard’s office contacted student finance on Melissa’s behalf and wrote to the Minister for Universities, with whom Richard also tried to have an urgent meeting in order to discuss Melissa’s case. Melissa’s case was then passed on to an independent assessor who, along with the Department for Education and Richard pushing them for a positive response, agreed that Melissa should receive full fee support for the remainder of her course, as well as a £350 payment for the stress and inconvenience the whole ordeal had caused her. Student finance were instructed to reinstate her tuition fees with immediate effect.
Commenting, Richard said:
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome we got for Melissa. This was an incredibly serious case where a constituent would have potentially ended up with tens of thousands of debt where she had been assured she wouldn’t.
“I am really pleased that we were able to resolve this. This was a difficult case which involved speaking to Ministers and various external departments and it was not a situation that we were able to resolve within a week but we fought hard for Melissa’s case and I am delighted that she is now able to continue her studies without needing to worry about the financial aspect of it all.
“I wish Melissa the very best with her studies and look forward to hearing about what she does with her degree!”
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