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India Edwards

welfare, community & diversity

UEA doesn’t always get it right- but we love it when it listens

I’m really pleased to blog that we have had news that the plan to bring in a £35 charge for those wanting a medical certificate from the University Medical Centre has been taken off the table for 2017-18.

When I heard that the University planned to pass on the cost of medical certificates to students like most people, I was deeply concerned. This wasn’t just about the awful impact that this could have had on those affected, but also that your SU hadn’t even been notified that discussions about this change were taking place.

Worse still, when we did find out and started to probe the rationale for the decision, it transpired that the number of med certs being issued was falling, and that there was no evidence for a rise in demand from what the Uni initially claimed were “chancers”.

UEA was built on new ideas, new ways of delivering education, on doing different and we want to see this reflected in the way the University work with its student population. This type of decision making- without evidence or involvement- was the opposite.

But following pressure both from Tom Howard’s fantastic petition and our relentless lobbying, it’s clear that the University have recognised now that it made a mistake and I think it’s really great that they can hold up their hands and admit when they make a bad call. This was a plan destined to fail and I’m really proud of the work we at the SU and student volunteers did to combat it. 

At the SU we always have students’ academic interests at the forefront of the work we do and this has really shown in this campaign. We know how health and wellbeing is so integral to succeeding at university – this plan really threatened that.

We can’t rest on this success. In the year ahead not only do I want to see charges like this taken off the table for good, I also want to have positive and broader discussions about accessing all types of health care whilst at University. From the provision of proper mental health support to prescription charges to access to a GP, I want to make sure that whilst at UEA all students are taken care of.

Costs for student are spiralling with the National Union of Students recently publishing a report which found many students had less than £25 per week to spend essentials like food. This will be a year when the SU tackles this head on so everyone can achieve in their studies.


Med Certs- the Facts

•    The University planned to cease paying the UMC for medical certificates related to coursework extension requests.  
•    The plan has been to introduce this policy for new students who register as patients with the UMC in 2017-18 academic year.   
•    The consequence of this action would be that the UMC would commence billing their patients, who are registered as new UEA students.    
•    The University has now decided that the plan whereby new students who register with the UMC pay for their medical certificates will not be implemented in 18-19.
•    They say this will allow them time to 

   - collect “more targeted data” regarding UMC appointments relating to certification requests
   - the number of certificates issued, and 
   - to consider what impact might result from the introduction of 2 opportunities to self-certify (being implemented in 2018-19)
•    In addition, it will give them time “to engage with both staff and students to ensure that the there is a good understanding of the circumstances when a medical certificate might be issued” and “what students should do in situations where it would not be appropriate to make an appointment with the Medical Centre”
•    These all reflect issues that the SU has been lobbying on since the change was announced
•    Once additional data has been collected and analysed, in discussion with the Students’ Union, the University will “determine how best to proceed in 2018-19”



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