Students and staff alike make constant use of the Natwest branch on campus as the only source of obtaining free cash withdrawals and even taking financial advice. This is all set to change when, on the 9th December, the branch will close its doors. The university, however, is making assurances that the closure will be delicately handled to minimise the inconvenience to the vast numbers that make daily use of the bank’s facilities.
The most prolific issue that the closure of the branch raises is that of whether or not the cash machines will either remain or be replaced. Were the Natwest machines to be removed, the only remaining cash point on campus would be located in the bar of Medicine, a machine that charges £1.50 for every withdrawal. Those in the universities financial department
agree that leaving a single cash point to service the entire campus would be an untenable arrangement and, as a result, they have stated that they have the complete intention of providing cash points in the current Natwest building for the foreseeable future.
In addition to this, the loss of the presence of a staffed branch that manages many students’ accounts (due to the popularity of the Natwest Student Account) as well as supervising the difficult financial situations of various foreign students that attend Royal Holloway, will undoubtedly be awkward. However the matter is merely one of geography; with Egham town centre’s close proximity to campus, and with the High Street’s numerous banks, students are unlikely to feel dramatically inconvenienced by the closure.
Although those in the university claimed that they could not disclose the specific reason for Natwest leaving the campus, they could reveal that the decision to close the branch lay with Natwest rather than the university. The most likely reason, fittingly, is probably a financial one; with Natwest’s owner RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) recently banning all staff Christmas parties, it is evident that the financial crisis is still causing a significant drive for cost cutting and the staffing of the Royal Holloway branch could conceivably fall under this banner.
The Assistant Finance Director for Royal Holloway, Jenny Febry, stated that she believes that it is “in everyone’s interest to have cash machines and banking facilities on campus.” This of course raises the possibility of another bank or alternative facilities replacing Natwest in the Spring Term, although the university has yet to announce any such plans.
The Natwest branch will remain open until the end of the Autumn Term, with the major disruption of losing the current cash machines taking place outside of term time in the Christmas break and during which the university hopes to have found a substitute for the current machines. Although the future of any bank’s presence on campus remains as yet unclear, the reassurance from the university of replacing the cash machines prior to the Spring Term ensures that campus life should remain largely unaffected.