Previously only certain postgraduate courses required a deposit.
King’s College London has rolled out a £40 application fee and £1000 deposit for domestic students at MA level, starting from 2016/17. International students are required to pay an even higher amount of £2000 – a flat rate regardless of full or part-time courses.
Its purpose is to deter non-serious applicants from accepting their place.
Prospective students will have one month or less to gather their money, which is offset against tuition fees after enrolment. Those who choose not to hold their place will be ineligible for a refund.
However, the new policy has sparked angry backlash, with a petition to reverse the changes amounting to over 1,200 supporters.
Giovanna Marasco, founder of the petition and blogger at ‘Angry Masters’, said that the deposit “was put in place by an out-of-touch administration, who have failed to consider the full effects of their actions.”
She added: “Weeding out non-serious applicants by testing how much money is in their bank accounts is always going to equate to weeding out non-wealthy applicants.”
— KCL Deposit Protest (@angrymasters) May 20, 2016
One PhD student has also argued that the application fee “is an artificial barricade that will disproportionately punish intelligent, hard-working students from low-income backgrounds.”
King’s, who are consistently ranked as one of the worst Universities in the Russell Group for student satisfaction, carried out the proposals without consulting KCLSU.
Ben Hunt, Vice President for Education (Arts and Sciences), said in response that “student input and representation is nowhere [near] where it needs to be… From an institution who prides itself on being of service to society and open to all, this is quite distressing.”
King’s addressed these concerns in a statement, issued after the imposed changes: “We recognise the concerns that students have about ensuring the affordability of postgraduate education.”
“Regrettably, where deposits are not required, some applicants do hold onto their place with no intention to enrol, meaning another capable student misses out on the opportunity to study at King’s.”
“The College regularly consults with KCLSU about student matters, including those to do with admissions. Deposits have been in place in many parts of King’s for the past two years and we have regularly reviewed their impact on students and on our applications.”
A potential reduction of the deposit to £500 has been provisionally agreed upon by the administration, in private talks with KCLSU.