Nigerian student, 21, who faced being kicked out of UK University, rescued by best friend’s dad in paying £21,000 tuition fees in full
A student who faced being kicked out of university over £21,570 of unpaid tuition fees was saved when his best friend’s father stepped in to pay the full amount.
George Okoro, 21, was a few months away from becoming the first university graduate in his family but disaster loomed when he received the fee demand.
It was his best friend’s father, Noel Tagoe, a director of the Association of Certified International Professional Accountants.
Mr Tagoe, from Oxford, said today: ‘George is a friend of my son. He is in need. You do not walk away from someone in need.’
The Royal Holloway student was so desperate he set up a crowdfunding page appealing for help, but days later got an email out of the blue to say the bill had been paid in full – by a man he had never met.
Mr Okoro, who came to Britain six years ago from Lagos in Nigeria is studying business management but found himself struggling with the combination of living costs and tuition fees.
Just before Christmas he got a letter from the university warning that £21,570 in fees were overdue and recommending he ‘interrupt’ his studies.
He managed to scrabble together about £1,700 towards the huge bill but began to think meeting the huge target would be impossible.
Mr Okoro said a ‘miracle’ happened on Tuesday, when he was copied in to an email from Noel Tagoe to the university telling them the £19,860 bill had been settled.
The news was confirmed by the university in a message the same day.
Kris, Mr Tagoe’s son, had become a close friend of Mr Okoro partly because of their shared African roots. He had told his father, who is of Ghanaian descent, about his friend’s plight.
Mr Okoro said today: ‘I almost cried at work when I read the email.
‘It truly is a miracle. I had raised £735 on my GoFundMe page when Noel paid the entire balance of my fees.’
‘I’ve not known such kindness and I’m still shocked that someone was willing to put £20,000 into any aspect of my life. I definitely won’t forget it.’
On Facebook, Mr Okoro wrote: ‘I’d began to lose hope, I was almost sure that I’d be kicked out.
‘I will be the first in my immediate family to graduate, proving to my little sister that you too can do it, regardless of how difficult it might be right now. It was all a dream.’
Mr Tagoe said, If he didn’t complete his degree, it would be a complete waste of his talent. It would have been a tragedy.
‘It is an issue with access. Students need to have financial means to pay fees.’
Mr Okoro has stopped taking donations on GoFundMe, but said the money already raised will be given to someone else in a similar situation.
Royal Holloway University declined to comment on the student’s case but said: ‘We are committed to supporting students throughout their studies at Royal Holloway.
‘We encourage students with any concerns, including payment of their tuition fees, to seek help and advice from our Student Advisory and Wellbeing team.’