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Lancaster University has sparked fury after telling a former student that he cannot receive his graduation certificate until he pays more than £17,000 back to the uni in tuition fees.

International student Patrick Ete secured a first in Mechatronic Engineering in 2016, with his place on the course funded by a scholarship from the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) in Nigeria.

However, after the RSSDA scholarship scheme collapsed in 2016, Ete has been informed that he must pay his third year tuition fees himself, in full.

“This was really hard on me because I come from a really poor background. I was struggling with life before I eventually got awarded this scholarship after a series of exams and interviews.

“Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have been able to afford university education back home, let alone a UK higher education,” he told The Lancaster Tab.

Ete currently contributes £20 a month to the more than £17,400 total owed to Lancaster University, at a pace which see him finally reach the sum – and awarded his certificate - in 2093.

The student offered to implement a payment plan which would see him pay back the fee in exchange for receiving his degree, but the university continued to state that his certificate would not be given to him until the debt is cleared.

An email from a member of staff at Lancaster University, published by TheLancaster Tab, reads: “It was agreed that a letter could be provided to you confirming that you had completed your degree but, due to the outstanding debt, your certificate could not be released.”

Ete also told The Tab that he had to turn down funded places on postgraduate courses due to the university withholding his degree.

fundraiser has since been set up on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to help Ete pay the remaining debt, and has already received more than £4,300 in donations.

One donor writes: “Patrick, you deserve your degree. Lancaster University’s decision is shameful.”

“Shame on you, Lancaster University,” wrote another.

In a statement to indy100, a spokesperson for Lancaster University said: “We cannot comment on individual cases but we are aware of Patrick’s case and will be investigating fully.”

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