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Scottish uni proposes refunds for not graduating

The University of the West of Scotland could become the first UK university to offer a fee refund to students – including international students – who fail to graduate, in an effort to boost its global competitiveness.

“In the global economy, the environment changes quickly and the magnitude of that change can be staggering,” Mahoney said.

"The UK's publicly-funded universities won't have a particularly attractive future unless they begin to act more like private industry"

The scheme would exclude students from within Scotland, whose fees are paid by the Scottish government, but would apply to students from the rest of the UK, who pay an annual £7,250 in tuition fees, and international students, who pay upwards of £10,000 a year.

“We cannot sit in our ivory towers, observing and imagining that we will be unaffected by the changes taking place around us”

UWS Principal and Vice Chancellor Craig Mahoney announced that the university is considering the rebate during a speech to university and business leaders at the Houses of Parliament.

He urged universities to acknowledge that “students are customers and we have to meet customer expectations”.

“It is my firm belief that the UK’s publicly-funded universities won’t have a particularly attractive future unless they become more commercially sensitive and begin to act more like private industry – including private higher education providers – to allow us to remain competitive across the globe,” he said.

Mahoney did, however, specify that a refund would be only offered only if students “attended and participated in all the support and development opportunities” offered by the institution.

“In the global economy, the environment changes quickly and the magnitude of that change can be staggering,” he said. “We cannot sit in our ivory towers, observing and imagining that we will be unaffected by the changes taking place around us.”

Robert Foster, Vice-President of the National Union of Students in Scotland warned that the refund, if it is implemented, should not become a marketing ploy to attract more fee-paying international students “while doing little for the outcomes of Scottish students”.

“We’d expect every university to consider more seriously how we best support all students to reach their full potential while ensuring we reject any notions of marketisation or seeing students as customers of a product,” he commented.

Such a move, if enacted, would also mean greater scrutiny of admissions procedures, inevitably.

There are currently around 1100 international students studying at UWS.

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