Mid-September I will be moving to Aberystwyth to start an undergraduate study in Creative Writing.
One of the reasons I ended up choosing to study in the UK and in Wales specifically is because their government enables you to loan the entire tuition fee for the study. The difference between studying in Wales and, for example in England, is that the Welsh government offers students a grant next to a loan. For those of you who don’t know the difference between a loan and a grant, a loan is money that you have to repay after your studies whereas a grant is a gift. In September 2012, tuition fees of £3,375 were raised to £9,000 per year. Therefore, the loan in England has gone up to £9,000 per year. In Wales, however, the government pays fee costs above £3,810 and so instead of lending £9,000 a year, I only need to loan a little less than half the amount.
I am not a UK national, but the great thing about the UK is that they are very welcoming towards international students. I’m from the Netherlands and I am not even considered an international student in terms of tuition fees. I fall into the category of being a European and this enables me to get this loan. In fact, I am very fortunate for living in the Netherlands instead of England because only Welsh and EU citizens are eligible for the grant.
Having started a higher education in the Netherlands before, I am familiar with the Dutch system regarding student finance. DUO is where Dutch students go to for financial help for their studies and in the UK this is GOV.UK. As easy as it all may seem, managing these things always lead to a lot of frustration.
UK nationals can apply for loans and grants online, but everyone else has to use old fashioned mail. In order for any application to be accessed you also need to send proof of your identity. In my case, this means I either had to send my original passport or a certified copy. Since I will be going to Korea in June I decided it would be best to send a copy. The following is what they mean by ‘a certified copy’:
“A certified copy is a photocopy of an original document which must have been stamped, signed and dated as being a true copy of the original by a person of good standing in the community. The person certifying the evidence must not be a relative.
Examples of a person of good standing include a bank or building society official, civil servant, minister of religion, police officer, someone with a professional qualification i.e. teacher, accountant, engineer, solicitor, etc.
Make sure the person certifying your document(s) stamp, sign and date all pieces of evidence.”
The explanation is clear and it seems quite doable, right? That is what I was thinking anyway. Surely the police should be willing to do this for me; take a look at my passport and I, then put a stamp on the copy, fill in some information and done! Well, the police did do so after emphasising that this was not a prank and having to explain twice, the purpose of all of this. Even then, the officer did not want to write down her email address or telephone number. Because she didn’t, my application was not accessed the first time and so I had to look for someone else to do the job.
You see the problem is, the Dutch are not familiar with a strange request like this. There is no university in the Netherlands that asks anyone to place a stamp and personal information on a copy of someone’s passport. I knew that if the police would have difficulties, it would be even more difficult to get a stamp at a bank. I called the local authorities which told me I’d have to pay €22,- for a legalised copy and they still wouldn’t give me an email address or a telephone number. He advised me to go to a notary but did warn me it would be way more expensive. Who would be willing to do this for me without asking money? I suddenly got a new idea! I could ask Bükra’s mother, she is a police officer too! Bükra is an old, yet still close, a friend of mine and I immediately texted her with the request. An hour later it was clear this would not work out. Apparently, her mother is only allowed to put a stamp on a certain type of authorised document. Let me remind you once again, the Netherlands is not used to strange requests like this. If you’d be with me right now, you’d be able to see my eyes roll. I decided to call my old school. “Of course I want to do that for you,” was the answer. FINALLY!
I let the administrator who I had spoken to on the phone sign it and re-sent my application away. Two weeks later it came back. ‘We are unable to process your application.’ WHAT? WHY? She wrote down her name, email, telephone number and address! There was a stamp on both the passport and the form with her personal information.
Turns out they do not accept administrators ‘as a person of good standing in the community’. I made sure the next person to certify my copy was a teacher and pledged to myself: if this does not work, I will simply send them my passport after I get back from Korea. By the time I received another letter from the UK, I had already grown too scared of yet another rejection to feel excited in any way. But guess what, third time’s the charm!
A little bit further on in the letter it says: “You will be liable for your Tuition Fee Loan from the first day of each term.” The only thing left for me to do now is book a plane ticket. I am so excited!
Posts in preparation for University:
Posts about what University was like in my first year:
Acitivies week and exploring
Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas!
My struggle at University
What freshers week was like
WE WON SUPERTEAMS!
Living in university accommodation
Summer Ball 2016
Goodbyes are not forever goodbye’s
Posts about what University was like in my second year:
Posts about what University was like in my third year: