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Help!!! Online university charging me £££;££ for course I barely started!

(32 Posts)
ilovehugs Mon 10-Mar-14 20:39:18

I'm a single parent working full time. Last year, I applied for funding (which never came through) and enrolled onto an online degree with a University. I found it impossble to keep up with the pace of the course and never submitted any work. About a month in, I spoke to the course leader and defered unti Feb. Not allot has change and unless I get more help with childcare, I would need a miracle to complete this course. The course leader emailed me because their records showed that I hadn't even logged in. I emailed to say that I still wasn't in a position to participate still. They have now emailed me to say that I am liable for fees. I never signed a thing, just ticked through the boxes on their online site. I have just read their extensive terms and conditions (yes, I should of done that first) and it seems I might be liable to up to £5k! basically for logging into their website six times. I don't have a penny to give them and never did, hence the funding. I'm sat here in tears at the prospect! Any advice would be very welcome righht now!

lougle Mon 10-Mar-14 20:45:39

Oh dear. Sorry, but I think you'll find you've agreed to pay by registering on the course and starting it.

ilovehugs Mon 10-Mar-14 20:49:46

I didn't even start it though. It was just too much work right from the outset. And I don't have 5K!

NurseyWursey Mon 10-Mar-14 20:50:20

Right first of all why did the funding not come through? You shouldn't have applied without funding first but that's here nor there now.

Secondly are you absolutely sure you can't do it. Honestly the thought might be daunting but either way it looks like you'll be paying for it so why not just try and give it another go? I can't imagine how difficult it is for you in your position, but just know you're not alone, I have a few friends doing open UNI who are single parents with babies and all they try to do is set aside a few hours after kids are down.

I'm not sure where you stand legally, citizens advise might be a good way to go

notapizzaeater Mon 10-Mar-14 20:52:33

What do the t and Cs say ? Can you re apply for the funding ?

Indith Mon 10-Mar-14 20:58:23

Being harsh. You signed up for something that costs money without having the funding to do so. You deferred once (fine) but then have ignored it since then and not contacted them to discuss either pulling out or deferring for longer. They do actually need to know and to discuss these things with you.

Hopefully they will be reasonable and waive at least part of the fees if you now pick up the phone and talk to them as you have not submitted work or used resources. However you will still have technically had an allocated tutor, been using up a space that could have gone to someone else and all that gubbins.

JabberJabberJay Mon 10-Mar-14 21:02:07

Have you phoned the admin/finance department at the university? That's what I would do first thing tomorrow. They should be able to talk you through exactly what you owe.

Even if you didn't sign anything or hand in any work, it seems that by enrolling for the course you have agreed to pay the fees.

I would explain your situation to the finance department and see what they say. They may (unlikely but not impossible) waive the fees in your case or they may be able to set up a more manageable repayment plan for you.

ilovehugs Mon 10-Mar-14 21:04:19

I really can't do it. My job is exhausting and one of my children has special needs. Just keeping up with day to day life is hard enough, without finding an extra 20 hours a week and the mental energy to do a degree at their pace.

I have literally logged into their website sixe times and bounced emails around saying that I can't keep up, that's the full extent of the my 'participation'.

The funding didn't go through because they needed a document which I never sent because by the time they chased me for it I had already differed the course. I was mulling over whether or not I should still apply, unaware that I was liable for costs. If I had any idea I would of ended up in this position, I would never have signed up. I'm literally in tears writing this. I have no money and the thought of a 5k debt for loffing onto a website for six times is absolutely horrifying. What am I going to do!!!!

notapizzaeater Mon 10-Mar-14 21:08:54

Can you not reapply for the funding, even if you don't do the course ?

JabberJabberJay Mon 10-Mar-14 21:09:24

There is nothing more you can do tonight OP.

Phone the admin department tomorrow and throw yourself on their mercy.

No point in worryingly yourself sick tonight.

Hope it works out for you.

NurseyWursey Mon 10-Mar-14 21:12:54

If worse comes to worse, and you have to pay the full amount... well they haven't got your bank details have they? You're not going to have to pay 5k in a lump sum.

You either arrange a payment plan with them, or let them take you to court and arrange a plan through court.

There's absolutely nothing to worry about, don't get stressed out. It does seem daunting having it hanging over your head but trust me, it'll be okay.

NurseyWursey Mon 10-Mar-14 21:14:23

Or you can try and get the funding now. I think you have up to 9 months after the course starts to apply for student finance funding. Get it done!

NurseyWursey Mon 10-Mar-14 21:16:26

Although before you do that, ask the uni if they'll accept it. With Open University you're supposed to tell them before enrolling how you're going to pay.

NurseyWursey Mon 10-Mar-14 21:17:38

Sorry for the amount of posts but just read this, open uni

^If you fail to pay your course fee, or if you
are in debt to us or our agent, we may end
your registration agreement, withhold your
exam results, awards and certification, or
bring legal action against you (or do all
these things). You may not be allowed to
register for another course^

Basically it sounds like they'll just close your account and not let you re-register. I doubt they'll take it as far as court.

ilovehugs Mon 10-Mar-14 21:41:45

NurseyWursey - That makes me feel a tiny bit better. It's with Hertfordshire uni. Just written a long email explaining in detail what happened and telling them that I was utterly dependent on the funding. Done all I can do now. Will try to talk to them tomorrow. I'm at their mercy. Thanks so much for the glimmer of hope. I'm an idiot, but I really had no idea I would be liable. x

Slapperati Mon 10-Mar-14 21:47:26

I work for a University and I can tell you it's unlikely that they are unlikely to hold you to the full amount, but, the university will have incurred costs related to the way they are funded, so you will have to pay something.

NurseyWursey Mon 10-Mar-14 21:48:49

Just remember that there's nothing they can do to hurt you or make you unable to put food on the table. You'll be in a bit of debt if worst comes to worst but that's it, and if they want the money they'll have to come to an arrangement with you.

I hope you get the outcome you need. x

ilovehugs Mon 10-Mar-14 22:17:15

Thanks so much. Will report back tomorrow. x

lizzywig Tue 11-Mar-14 05:56:52

Just a thought but you say that you couldn't keep up with the pace. Were they clear about the pace, i.e assignment workload, prior to you signing up? If not could that be something to negotiate on? For example you explain that you never would have signed up in the first place had it been clear that you would have had to do x, y & z within x amount of time. Reasons being that you are a single parent with x amount of time and it would not have been feasible, which would have been clear to you had the detail of the course been stipulated before signing up. Only say this if it's true of course. It might be a weak argument but it's better than nothing.

ilovehugs Tue 11-Mar-14 20:48:21

Thanks Lizzywig. They weren't clear at all about that, a 'cooling off' period which was never discussed etc. I have spoken and email to them today. They have basically said they will review my 'case' next week but the total cost is £4000.I deferred it within the first month because I couldn't get the work done. I told them I wouldn't be able to do it unless I made some major life changes. I basically didn't participate. It was during a very stressful time too. I'm at their mercy and still very upset. I'm find it very hard not to worry about it. But, yes, their records will show and the communication will show that I struggled from the start. I just wish I had understood the risk I was taking sad.

borrowingworks Tue 11-Mar-14 21:30:03

FWIW I've had unpaid debts to three universities over the years. They tend to be quite lazy in chasing debts (compared to credit card companies etc) and all of them accepted token payments of £1 a month while I could show I was on a low income (needed to send income/expenditure statements once or twice a year with proof). They certainly weren't sending bailiffs to the door, as long as I kept up with the agreed payments. That's fairly reasonable behaviour, compared to credit/loan companies (who often won't accept token payments that low or just sell your debt to debt collection agencies who can be very aggressive). I also checked my credit files and they never appeared as debts on those.

Eventually I had the debts written off under bankruptcy but that's because I had a load of other debts too and it was worth the fees to make a fresh start. As your debt is under £15k you could consider a debt relief order to clear the debt, which costs £90 but you need to seek professional debt advice to see whether that option is appropriate for you.

SuperScrimper Wed 12-Mar-14 19:33:55

borrowingworks you have had debts to 3 universities and have gone bankrupt. Wow. Don't you think it is really irresponsible to keep racking up debt time after time and never actually clearing it?

NurseyWursey Wed 12-Mar-14 19:40:22

LOL how ironic is the username. Borrowing obviously doesn't work.

OP how did you get on?

BrianTheMole Wed 12-Mar-14 19:46:15

I'm not so sure about that. Maybe borrowing does work if you don't pay it back. Or maybe not, hmm, thats not actually borrowing is it? more like stealing

SuperScrimper Wed 12-Mar-14 19:46:37

But that is the sad and annoying thing. Borrowing clearly does work for her. She racks up thousands and thousands of £ of debt and then pays £800 and has it all written off. A few years down the line it's like it hardly happened.

It actually really does disgust me how easy bankruptcy has become.

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