Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has welcomed a decision by City of Glasgow College to withdraw a penalty fee charged to Orkney student, Ms Charlie Fender, after she left her course early.
Ms Fender had been studying Beauty Therapy at HNC level when a deterioration in her mental health left her with no option but to withdraw from college and return home. Shortly thereafter, her mother passed away suddenly.
She then faced an unexpected charge of £428 from the college for having dropped out of her course early.
Mr McArthur wrote to the college Principal, Paul Little, urging him to reconsider the decision to charge Ms Fender in light of the circumstances of her case. Orkney’s MSP also raised the matter with the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead MSP, at General Questions.
In a letter to Mr McArthur, Mr Little set out the justification for charging ‘drop out’ fees, but confirmed that he was prepared to waive the charge in this instance given the unexpected death of Ms Fender’s mother.
Commenting on the decision, Mr McArthur said:
“The last few months have been incredibly difficult for Charlie.
“While I understand the need for colleges to charge students who drop out of courses early, this policy must be proportionate and informed by common sense. It is also important that students are made aware of what the rules are and the consequences of changing or dropping courses.
“Given the circumstances surrounding Charlie’s case, imposing a charge was never appropriate. The fact that the demand came out of the blue only made matters worse, at what was already a very difficult time for Charlie.
“I am very grateful to Paul Little for agreeing to my request to review the case and am delighted that the original decision has now been overturned. Clearly there is always a balance to strike, but in this instance waiving the charge is absolutely the right thing to do. I hope this now helps Charlie to get on with the next phase of her life.”