The Shadow Chancellor has criticised UEA’s handling of a plan to see students pay for a doctor’s note.

In July, Concrete reported the university medical service would introduce a £35 charge for a medical certificate. Currently this NHS charge is covered by a subsidy granted to the University Medical Centre (UMS).

Coursework extensions often necessitate these certificates.

UEA later announced they would delay the implementation of the plan.

A petition against the subsidy withdrawal garnered around 1,500 signatures and was supported by local MP Clive Lewis.

The petition’s author, second-year History student Thomas Howard, reached out to Labour minister John McDonnell on the issue. The pair spoke in person at a local Labour event.

A spokesperson for Mr McDonnell said the politician supported the petition. They said: “Supporting students is important to him as they don’t need any further financial pressures.”

He is pleased that the UEA has postponed the withdrawal of the subsidy and hopes this offers the opportunity for a reconsideration.”

Pressure from students led to the revelation there was not sufficient data on applications for the certificates. It was claimed demand for certificates had exponentially increased; in actuality the number issued had decreased by 15 percent in the last three years. The university admitted they did not hold figures for students’ unsuccessful requests.

A spokesperson for the university reiterated: “The university, in consultation with the students’ union, has decided to postpone the introduction of a new policy which would have resulted in new students who register with the University Medical Centre paying for their medical certificates, as happens in other GP practices.

“This one year postponement has been agreed so further data can be gathered on the likely impact of the cost on students and plans put in place to ensure that any negative impacts are mitigated.”

Students who start their course this September will not be billed by this medical practice for certificates.”