‘Rent arrears’ student wins right to graduate

A student denied her degree because of alleged rent arrears has won her fight to be allowed to graduate. In an out-of-court settlement, the university has agreed that she can graduate and waived the £3,540 fees in back rent they said she owed. Maria Lavelle joined the University of Winchester as a 25-year-old mature student in 2015. She moved into student accommodation but asked if, as a mature student, she could not be housed with freshers as she thought the atmosphere would be too noisy. When she found she had been, she gave notice that she would be moving out and into private lodgings. However, the university said she had signed a contract to stay the whole year in student accommodation and argued she should pay back £3,540 in arrears. The National Union of Students described her case as an ‘extremely significant test case’, adding: ‘This is common practice among universities and it’s something we’ve been concerned about for a while.’