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MANAGERS at University College London (UCL) have been criticised for slamming the door in the faces of students calling for more funding for the university’s mental health services.
Students attempted to deliver an open letter to UCL management offices last Friday, only to have the door shut on them by vice-provost Rex Knight.
Mr Knight caused outrage in 2016 when he allegedly threatened a student journalist with dismissal if she published classified forecasts showing that UCL stood to generate a cash surplus from student accommodation.
The open letter, signed by academics and student union reps, called for £340,000 to be put towards fixing the university’s crisis-hit mental health services.
Nearly 3,000 students use the services each year, but, according to a students’ union report, they are operating at 30 per cent over working capacity, meaning that a third of those who apply have to wait months for vital care or, in some cases, receive no help at all.
Students’ union women’s officer Justine Canady said: “We know UCL has the money to pay for proper mental health services. The money we are asking for is less than the provost makes in a year.
“Hundreds of students at UCL are suffering because the front-line mental health services supposed to help them don’t have enough resources.
“If UCL wants to maintain its image as a world-class university, it needs to start by actually caring for its students.”
Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) co-founder Linda Burnip said that “the pressures and the costs” of a university education were causing a lot of students to suffer from mental health problems.
She added that UCL bosses could start to address the problem by “meeting [the students] and finding out what they are asking for.”
A UCL spokesperson said that Mr Knight had been “concerned that the protest would escalate if the group managed to get into the provost’s office uninvited … he therefore went back into the provost’s office and closed the door.
“It is not accurate to say that the [mental health] service is in crisis or that it is over working capacity,” the spokesperson claimed.
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