Report highlights law on student graduation debts

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THE city’s university will be studying a new report which claims stopping students graduating because of debt could be a breach of the law.

The Office of Fair Trading has written to universities warning against preventing graduations because of non-academic debts, such as library fines.

About three quarters of universities have these bans on students who owe money, says the consumer watchdog.

A spokesperson for the University of Sunderland said: “We will consider the recommendations made in the OFT report to universities across the UK resulting from its sector-wide review of terms and conditions.”

The OFT warning comes after complaints from the National Union of Students, which said stopping someone graduating over an unpaid debt, such as accommodation, childcare payments, car parking or library fines, was disproportionate.

Now, OFT has written to more than 170 universities saying these sanctions could be breaching the consumer protection law.

Nisha Arora, a spokeswoman for OFT, said: “Preventing progression or graduation not only affects students’ educational experience but could also significantly harm their future employment prospects and ability to pay off their debts.”