A PROSPECTIVE nurse has called for the University of Worcester (UoW) to be more lenient after she was offered a place as an international student despite being “born and bred” in the city.

Single parent Laura Williams holds full British citizenship and lives in the city, but claims she moved “periodically” to Australia in 2006 before returning in 2016, and feels “discriminated against” and “extremely let down”.

Being classed as an international rather than domestic student means the 39-year-old will not have access to government student loans and will have to pay an extra £9,900 in tuition fees.

UoW said it cannot uphold her complaint, as per The Student Fees (Qualifying Courses and Persons) (England) Regulations 2007 for a student to be classed as domestic they must prove they have lived in the UK full time for three years consecutively.

The admissions department feel a number of answers in Ms Williams’ financial assessment implied she had been living and working full time in Australia and not the UK for at least part of the last three years.

These include her permanent residence address being listed as an Australian one and her stating she was a full UK resident from “December 2016-2017, August 2017, July 2019 onwards”.

Her application also said: “We have the luxury that the school terms are different in Australia and therefore we are able to spend at least three months a year back home in the UK.”

Ms Williams admits she made some 'misjudgments' on her application – as she was distracted due to her father having been rushed to intensive care at the time – but says she holds a British passport, co-owns a property here and has had a UK bank account for 13 years.

Since 2016, after her marriage broke down, she said she has “been flitting between countries on a regular basis”, partly because her father has been severely unwell, but over that time has actually only spent approximately two months per year in Australia.

She said she has done temporary relief work during her brief returns Down Under – for her daughter’s sake – but has been caring for her dad while in the UK so not working or paying income tax.

In an email to Ms Williams, assistant registrar for UoW recruitment & admissions, Francesca Fairhurst, said she had “not provided any evidence” that she was a full resident in the UK and her application “only lists employment in Australia and not in the UK”.

“If you can provide evidence that you have been ordinarily resident in the UK since 1 September 2016, then I will be happy to review your status,” she added.

But Ms Williams said she “cannot ‘prove’ my residency” due to not having paid income tax and while she part owns a city property she has no mortgage and doesn’t personally pay the council tax as her parents live there.

The mum believes the university should be more lenient and encourage people to study and work as nurses in the city rather than ‘split hairs’.

She now shares a house with her new partner and daughter in Worcester, and intends to remain in the city once established as a nurse.

She previously completed an honours degree BA (Hons) Business Management & Health Studies at UoW in 1998 as a domestic student – having been living out of the country for 18 months prior – before completing a PGCE here in 2005.

“They are simply a business now and have complete disregard for Worcester residents or alumni,” she said.

“Acting in the best interests but being emotionally torn between both my daughter and my ageing parents, I have now had to sacrifice my dream of studying nursing for a substantial period of time due to this incorrect decision.”

A university spokesman said: "The university pays very careful consideration to every application we receive and treats every individual on their own merits, selecting the very best. In addition we must, by law, apply the fee regulations which are imposed by the Government, however much we disagree with them.

"There are strict Government regulations that all Universities must apply regarding students who are seeking access to finance from Student Finance England.

"These include that to qualify for a home fee and loan 'you must also have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for the full three year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course'."

The spokesman went on to say: The spokesman said: “We entirely support the view that there should be no fees to study nursing, midwifery and other vital health care professions. 

“Tragically HM Government decided that the price of reversing their disastrous cuts of 2011 would be imposed on students.”

Since 2017, fees of £9,250 per year have been imposed for studying to be a nurse, despite these students working 2,100 hours for no pay in the NHS while studying, the spokesman continued.

“This imposition of fees has deterred many people, particularly excellent applicants in their 20s, 30s and 40s, from applying to study nursing. 

“This is a further tragedy and has rightly been described as an ‘act of national self-harm’, but at least, in most cases, applicants can borrow the fee from Student Finance England and repay when they are earning, at the rate of an extra tax of 9p for every pound which is earned over £25,716 a year.” 

They added: “The UoW has a long record of being one of the UK’s most inclusive institutions. 

“We work hard every day to provide opportunities for people to study and fulfil their potential. 

“The university is one of the best educators of nurses in the country and all our nursing graduates are snapped up." 

“Not only are we deeply committed to educating more nurses to work in our health service, but we actively campaigned for many years to reverse the disastrous cuts in nursing numbers that were imposed by the Government in 2011.”