A STRUGGLING student faced being kicked out of university until his £20,000 debts were paid by his best friend’s dad.
George Okoro is a few months away from becoming the first university graduate in his family but disaster loomed after he got the £21,570 demand for tuition fees.
The 21-year-old was so desperate he set up a crowdfunding page appealing for help.
But then out of the blue he got an email to say the bill from Royal Holloway University, London, had been paid in full – by a man he had never met.
It turned out that his best friend’s dad, Noel Tagoe, a director of the Association of Certified International Professional Accountants, had stumped up the cash.
Noel, from Oxford, said today: “George is a friend of my son. He is in need. You do not walk away from someone in need.”
George, who came to the UK from Lagos, Nigeria, six years ago is studying business management but 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.
George managed to scrabble together about £1,700 towards the huge bill. His crowdfunding bid, launched on Saturday, raised just over £700 in a few days but meeting the target seemed impossible.
George 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.
Student Kris Tagoe, Noel’s son, had become a close friend of George’s, partly because of their shared African roots. Kris had told his father, who is of Ghanaian descent, about his pal’s plight.
George 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.”
He added: “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, George 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.”
Noel said today: “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. Those who do not have access to that is a huge waste of resources.”
George has stopped taking donations on GoFundMe but he says the money that has been raised will be given to someone else who ends up in a similar situation.
Royal Holloway University declined to comment on an individual student’s situation but a spokeswoman 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.”