Fee or no Fee?

So, we know that my relationships with the institution – whether that be the University/academy, or the school, or the gallery/museum, or the family, ect – are rocky, and often precarious.

No matter what I do, I always seem to be screwed by them.

Take the place where I study.  I love SHU. I think it’s great. Contemporary Fine Art at SHU is one of the best courses you could ever go on. For a number of reasons. You are taught to be self-motivated, to develope a practice and not just simply a portfolio or a piece of work, you have time and the space (mentally) to develop into the artist that you want to be. The staff, of course, are just simply fantastic; and the community of students are the least competitive and the most supportive that I have ever seen in terms of an art course.

However, the pure beurocracy of the institution limits the greatness of what SHU could be. (An ironic statement since their  wanna be – business – savy talk, and plans, and wanna be materialistic and capitalistic endeavors actually hinders their positive attributes!)

As part of my course I had to undertake a work placement/internship/work experience for 12 weeks. This could be taken at any time between the summer/september and to be completed by the end of January 2010.  I asked the student finance how to fill out my loan request form for tuition fees in my last academic year. They said tick these boxes (placement) and this one for one semester (university). So my LEA decided that I only had to pay half of the tuition fees because I am in actuality not in college. I am in a different country, working for free, NOT in the university.

I enrolled (after many problems – of course – more beurocracy) and as I enrolled it said: You will may £3,700. Alarm bells started to ring. My LEA loan form told me they were only going to pay the semester that I was at college. surely this was a mistake on the behalf of SHU?  I rang some people in the university – They told me that they’d call me back… then never did.

I went to America, had an amazing time.

When I arrived in the USA. My editor tells me that my college had never tried to contact him before my arrival. This was embarrassing on my behalf. It looks unprofessional, and certainly makes me look foolish. I didn’t appericate this. It also told me that the university didn’t actually care about my personal welfare. I just took a plane to Chicago, and no one checked to see whether there really was an office, or whether one would be insured. An act of gross misconduct if they want to be professional and business like!

So, I grit my teeth and shake it off. What did I really expect from SHU?  I had contact with a member of staff 2 times via email and skype (the latter to make sure i was still alive i suspect).  after 4 awesome months, I arrive back home to a bill for £1,6315 of tuition fees for the 1st semester that I wasn’t there for?

Thanks SHU!

I go to college the next available working day and ask to clarify a few things.

Here’s my case:

  • I was in a different country
  • I never had any classes, lessons, no staff contact, no use of facilities, the institution couldn’t even be arsed to check on the place I was going.
  • the placement takes a semester up in time
  • the placement was unpaid
  • There was no exchange, thus no one was using those facilities instead of me?
  • they could, of course, argue that I was using the SHU name for my placement – but to validate that excuse I believe that they should have checked-in in Chicago.

Erm, so why do I have to pay tuition fees for that semester?   For January onward I have no problems with?  I thought I paid tuition for well… it’s the name TUTITION FEE?

Clearly we are laboring under some misapprehension?

I went to Student Finance, they were equally confused. The woman rings another woman up – she doesn’t use my name – she refers to my student number throughout the whole conversation.

There the cold, unearthly realization hits me hard. I always moan – yeah we’re just numbers. But there it was, in the thick of my fincial crisis. I am being refered to 106.

“1-0-6 says that they got it in the post”  the woman continues.   I am – ultimately – just a number! Another pay cheque, another profit. Another student through the system who will cough up 1 and half grand of cash with no university support to show for it?

She gets off the phone, ” it’s not a finance thing” she replies handing me back the BILL, ” See your faculty”

So I go to call the Faculty. It’s rare for someone to meet the administration staff , poor folks are always the first to get students like me bitchin’ at them for the university beurocracy and lack of communications between departments (i hope they get my fee in their wage package) – i feel like i am on Deal or no Deal. The woman is the banker.

She tells me to go to the Finance department, I tell her i’ve been there and they told me to call her. She is now also confused. She tells me she will enquire and call me back.

45 minutes later, i was the belief it was going to be another non-call back, there was my New York Shit by Busta-rhymes ring tone.

Before I answered i KNEW that the answer was that I was to pay the money because, well they wouldn’t have called me back otherwise.

They tell me MOST of the people she has asked say I should pay it because it’s a modual component thus, i have to pay for it. Hmmm I think, isn’t computer science, architecture, engineering all compulsory modual components?  yes. But this is art, and well – the institution definitely would like to make an extra buck.  She tells me I NEED to tell my LEA to pay the other tution fees.

How do I do this when they, like most people, think i shouldn’t have to pay it by their classifications. PlACEment in a different country does indeed equal no teaching?!

Should be a fun phone call.

This of course comes at a time where the government wants to make courses 2 years long, instead of 3, raise tuition fees and get rid of maintenance grants all at the detriment of education.  Of course, this will reflect in years to come with a badly educated workforce and a classist system whereby only the middle class rich kids can afford to go to university, and receive a 2 year mediocre course in what typically should take even 4-5 years of studying to truly get to know the subject matter personally and intelligently with integrity and passion.

my irony continues, as I have discovered by writing this that i actually can’t spell tutition ! Thanks spell checker!?

But in conclusion, what do I know? I’m just a working class kid that has somewhat beat the system thus far by the skin of my teeth, to be caught out on the worst area to caught out on for me – MONEY!

Stubborn in my ways, one will have to call the LEA but I am still very convinced that this should not be the case.

Yeah, Sarah Smizz is back with the blogging.


Published by smizz

I've had this blog since I was 17. I use it process thinking & work. It's changed with how my life has changed. Artist → Re-evaluating life→ Rad Oncology graduate + public health worker→ @lab4living PhD-er → Want 2 make a positive difference → Rule-Breaker → LIVE DRAWZ! → councillor! → Loves cities → rides fixie → adventures → wanna be ramen master → <3 Tokyo + NYC

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