A Victoria University of Wellington student has been left "stunned and upset" after receiving an email from the university threatening to cancel his graduation if an outstanding $154 fee is not paid.
The university has since apologised to the student, saying that the threat was an "isolated incident".
The student, who is just weeks away from graduating with a bachelor of laws, received the email from the university at 3pm on Tuesday afternoon, demanding that payment be made in full within 24 hours.
"Your fee must be cleared by Wednesday 21 April for you to be eligible to graduate at the May ceremony," the email read.
The email, seen by the Herald, did not detail how much the outstanding fee was, nor the reason for the charge.
This email came despite a separate email from Victoria University sent to the student last month confirming his graduation in the May ceremony.
"It's come out of the blue. I checked with the university when I confirmed my graduation and they said there were no outstanding charges," the student said.
After receiving the email, the student subsequently rang the university finance office, who advised the fee was $154, the result of a late StudyLink application dating back to last year.
In that phone call, the student says the university's finance office told him that he must pay the fee, initiate a dispute process, or wait and graduate in December.
"How on earth am I supposed to dispute this fee when I receive an email telling me I have to pay the fee by tomorrow?" the student asked.
According to the 25-year-old, the email came as a huge shock after having already booked flights and accommodation for the graduation.
"I've spent five years studying towards this degree, and to be told my graduation could be taken away from me over $154 if not paid tomorrow is pretty tone-deaf."
In an emailed statement, a Victoria University spokesperson said that the email sent to the student was an accident, and they have waived the charge.
"The university regrets this error, has waived the fee for the impacted student and their graduation status has not been impacted," the statement read.
Asked if it was general practice to withhold graduation from students with outstanding accounts, the University provided the Herald with a copy of its fees policy document, which does give the university the ability to withhold both grades and conferment of degrees.
"Any student who fails to pay charges due and payable to the University may lose their entitlement to have a degree conferred, receive grades, receive a transcript or academic certificate, or access any certified digital documents," the policy states.