Debt dilemma: Bangor grad unable to collect first class law degree launches public appeal

Wannabe lawyer who worked as a toilet attendant to fund vac schemes in dire straits

An international law student at Bangor University is hoping the generosity of strangers will help him graduate.

Having recently completed an LLB at the Welsh university, Akorede Samuel Omotayo was unable to don a mortarboard and gown along with his peers last Wednesday because of outstanding tuition fee debt. He described it as the “saddest day of my life.”

This is because Omotayo — who has secured a first class result — still owes Bangor £3,525 in fees. Now, like many law students before him, Nigerian-born Omotayo has turned to crowdfunding in the hope of raising the much needed cash. He told Legal Cheek:

I am presently at a deadlock with my final year tuition fees, and I have been advised to set up a campaign on GoFundMe to raise the outstanding fee of £3,525 on my £9,000 final year tuition fees… Any help whatsoever will be deeply appreciated and acknowledged.

His GoFundMe page reveals Omotayo spent three months between late 2015 and earlier 2016 working as a toilet attendant at Bangor’s Peep Night Club. Describing himself as the guy who would solicit “for your pennies and coins in exchange for a few sprays of deodorant,” he continues:

Sam, as I am fondly called by many of my patronisers — turned friends, who, at first, were sympathisers and many of whom, although drunk, could still empathise with my sorry state — at least, for putting up with the smell from their pee for good three hours whilst also cleaning up the mess they left behind.

This helped Omotayo raise £1,000 towards City law firm events and internships at the likes of Simmons & Simmons, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Reed Smith. He also attempted to clear his debts by working various jobs (in a warehouse, a nursing home and a food factory) and by borrowing money from friends. However, factor in living expenses and Omotayo having to send money back to Nigeria to help support his elderly parents, and he’s been left several thousand pounds short.

An email sent by Bangor University to Omotayo

There is an added pressure for him to hit his £3,525 crowdfunding target. Omotayo, a regular contributor to the Legal Cheek Journal section, has offers to study masters degrees from both Renmin University of China and Newcastle University. These offers include a full or partial scholarship, but are contingent on him providing his final degree transcript. He tells us:

I can’t express enough the frustration I have had at my predicament. Obtaining the fees through the crowdfunding, even though it is detrimental to my future application for UK Visa, was my last resort.

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53 Comments

Broflake

Person agrees to a service – person does not pay for service – person is refused fruits of the service – person turns to saying he’s been hard done by.

Yawn. Next.

(65)(26)
Anonymous

The UK is wealthy too , don’t you still have people living in poverty?

(21)(4)
Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(5)(5)
Anonymous

What a gross opinion.
It clearly demonstrates that you have never taken the time to speak to anyone on benefits, to understand their circumstances and appreciate that not everyone has success handed to them on a plate.

You’re a privileged snob.

(13)(7)
Broflake

Read the article? Does not say anywhere that he was on benefits – it says he was an international student.

I picked out the facts, good to see you picked out your own opinion.

(11)(1)
Anonymous

Then perhaps he should have done his law degree in Nigeria?

(9)(9)
Anonymous

Clearly the elderly parents are living in far greater poverty in Nigeria than they would do in Wales?

(2)(1)
Anonymous

Person is born with silver spoon in their mouth. Person is wanker!

(3)(3)
Anonymous

Let’s hope his hard work doesn’t go down the toilet.

(22)(3)
404 Sympathy not found

This is not something that has sprung up out of the blue… he was clearly aware he had these fees to pay. While I commend him for trying to earn extra money whilst studying, the jobs sound quite sporadic, and low paying. Surely a more stable job may have helped more? Obviously, this is clearly some speculation, I have no idea how much he was making. The point is though, his forward planning skills clearly need to be developed a bit.

I’m all for using the resources available, and if he raises the money then great. However, I must say I have no great sympathy.

(16)(11)
Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(6)(2)
Anonymous

Oh no! Somebody seems to have gone overboard with the post moderation – I’m sure lots of these hidden ones were not bad at all! 🙁

(3)(1)
Belinda

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(3)(2)
Anonymous

Kind of quite amazed by some of the comments on here. Not really too much of a surprise that lawyers and law students are considered arrogant and callous (even though the majority aren’t) when people are quite happy to post such blithe bollox – even in jest.

Just WTF is wrong with you ?

(31)(10)
Tim NicebutDim

He didn’t pay for his degree? Not sure what I’m missing here. UK education is one of our most sought after assets, so it makes sense to protect it.

(22)(4)
Anonymous

So you’re absolutely convinced that he does not intend (and never did) to pay as opposed to struggling financially then ?

(2)(5)
Tim NicebutDim

Of course not – simply pointing out that not paying for something usually isn’t acceptable and this should especially be the case for UK education. If this type of thing were allowed because people spin hard-knock stories, the standards of English institutions would be eroded and reputation lost – a vital asset in higher education.

(16)(3)
Larry

These toilet men really annoy me. It makes washing your hands really awkward. I hate it.

(19)(2)
Anonymous

I’m so shocked by some of the comments here. As people with an interest in law, we should all clearly know that we do not know the full extent of his circumstances solely based on this article. He may have started his education with enough money to complete it and something could have happened along the way during the 3 years he was studying. Also, as a student on a visa, he cannot work for more than 20 hours a week and it does restrict the kind of work you can do too which is why he worked those low paid jobs because it is also harder for someone on a visa to find a better part-time job. We don’t know what has happened here and for people here to think he would have started studying with no intention of paying his tuition fees think again. To apply for a UK visa is extremely hard especially for Nigerians and you have to have a certain amount in your bank account and have to show you will be able to support yourself and pay for your tuition fees when you apply. So I’m pretty sure he didn’t go through all that stress with the intention not to pay tuition fees when he knew it could get him withdrawn from his course.

(32)(4)
Anonymous

Why would he do that? It would hold far less weight and offer him far fewer opportunities.

(9)(6)
Titus Trombolus

So pay for those qualities then? He’s getting the better product, so it seems entirely reasonable that he should pay more for it.

(8)(7)
Anonymous

Did you not read the original comment that these replies attach to?

The poster makes a very good point that to have got his visa in the first place he will have needed to have had the funds to prove that he can pay for the course and to maintain himself during it. Therefore at the time he made the decision to study in the UK (as opposed to Nigeria, as you suggest he should have), he could afford it. Hence, he made that decision knowing that he could afford to pay more for it.

What happened since is not relevant to that original decision. Perhaps a family member became unwell and he had to support them financially. Maybe he became addicted to fine champagne, premium food products and drugs. What caused him to not be able to pay is an unknown, and depending on what that cause was will dictate how much it is his own fault that he cannot pay up.

The point you seem to miss is that the original decision to study here is not flawed and he did have the funds to study here when he made that decision.

(13)(3)
Titus Trombolus

What’s your answer? Bail out each international student that comes over and ‘suddenly’ realises they can’t afford it? Think about this from an economic/business standpoint.

(11)(4)
Anonymous

My answer is certainly not to entertain comments like yours, which hint that they should study in their country of origin instead. The requirements as to how much money they need in their account are already pretty tough, raising that figure would not be appropriate. It will usually be an aggravating factor that makes it unaffordable once they are here.

Then considering it from an economic/business standpoint, the manner in which the debt should be pursued should be made on a commercial basis depending on the amount in question and the circumstances that led to it becoming overdue. There can’t be a blanket answer of “bail people out” or “demand the lot immediately or deport them for life”, or some other ridiculous policy. It would also make no economic/business sense to make it more difficult for international students to study here, if the number of international students dwindles then that won’t do the universities any favours.

(5)(7)
Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(3)(5)
Anonymous

As others have pointed out above, it’s difficult to feel sympathy when we don’t really know the cause (or purported cause) of his financial difficulty. If there’s a genuine reason why he can’t pay the last chunk of his fees then it’s up to each person as to whether they think he deserves their support. If it’s due to wasteful spending then I personally would be less sympathetic.

I’m just curious though – if his offer of a place at Newcastle is tied to a partial scholarship, how is that a valid option for him given that it is mid-summer and he has no funds?

(6)(2)
Anonymous

Why study there if he couldn’t afford the fees? Before we went to university we crunched the numbers beforehand.

(3)(1)
Anonymous

His visa would not have been granted had he not originally been in a position to afford the fees. Things happen that change your financial situation.

(5)(2)
Vegan Atheist

Who said I want “poonani” or “gash”? Even if I did, I am not necessarily going to fail in my pursuits by not purchasing some watered down aftershave

(1)(0)
Anonymous

If I ever want to find the most pretentious, entitled and ruthlessly cruel young snobs in society I just need to have a look around the comments section on legal cheek. You wouldn’t be showing your true colours in a hurry without the cloak of anonymity.

(5)(8)
Pascal

I think they just need to get their baps buttered, then they will simmer down.

(4)(0)
Anonymous

I like your failure to detect the irony in making a snobbish comment on LC anonymously whilst accusing others of the same.

(6)(0)
Anonymous

I’m shocked at how cruel some of these people’s comments are!! Inj

(6)(2)

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