The minimum requirements of the university are "a thesis with evidence of original work and independent critical ability considered suitable for publication". So, the student claims that my requests for submitting conference/journal publications during the PhD are unrealistic.
First, this statement must not (and indeed cannot) be enforced on any side as a contract (i.e. between the university and the student). A contract would be written thus: We (the university) guarantee to give you (the student) this (a PhD) degree after you give us this (a thesis with ...). The statement is a performance metric. The university has established that students will not EARN a PhD unless they fulfill at least this requirement.
Here are ways to enforce this view to all concerned:
Ask the student to produce a document that has been signed by both the university and the student that explicitly states that he/she is guaranteed to be given a PhD when he/she submits the minimum requirement. This will be impossible.
Ask the student to research and write a treatise on the fundamental differences between the language in legally binding contracts versus that used in performance metric standards.
Secondly, this is a minimum metric at the university level. This leaves open the option that colleges, departments, and faculty set their own performance metrics to reach this minimum. By example, in a Biology Department in a liberal arts college, the metric may be determined to be met when the student develops a new analysis method for confocal microscopy whereas in a Physics Department in a Tier 1 university, the metric may be determined to be met only when the student has designed, built, calibrated, and proven the fundamental operation of an entirely new type of confocal microscope.
The above option carries down to the individual faculty in any given department. What you demand as an assurance toward the minimum performance metric can be entirely different from what your colleague demands.
In this regard and with respect to the opening statement of contracts versus metrics, you, as the primary faculty advisor, have the right and certainly also the obligation to set the terms of the contract that you demand between you and the student to work in your team.
You can formalize the distinction between contracts and performance metrics in various ways.
Establish a requirement that students must pass a Dissertation Proposal within an established time period.
Establish a requirement that students must complete all of their required coursework with at least a minimum grade to start working in your group.
Establish a requirement that students must present their research work to at least one (regional, national, or international) conference as a poster within an established time period after starting their work.
The above are a combination of contracts and metrics. To be respected, they should be established in the sense of saying "when you (the student) do not complete this, you cannot continue on this".
Have you ever met this situation before? How do you deal with this?
I have. Students want to believe that a graduate degree is a process akin to buying a rug at an Indian bazaar or filling their plate at an open buffet. They believe that they can negotiate the terms or they can pick and choose their options.
I deal with it as above. I have refused to take students who have yet to complete a minimum of the required coursework first. I require the defense of a thesis or dissertation proposal before a committee (even though the former is not a department requirement). I demand presentations and publications from PhD students before the dissertation can be written. And I establish (and within bounds maintain) standards for time periods to accomplish the requirements. All of this, and I would bet that my university has only a comparable statement as does yours as to what constitutes the metrics for a PhD.
I have no control over the student's funding stream (external). The only thing I can do is to make a suggestion at the School level. But this will become a "what about" discussion.
Pardon me but ... Why the heck is this even an issue? Either you have your standards, set them, and move forward; or you do not. When you are paying the bill for the student, you may believe that you have more leverage. This belief is however a false hope. It also does a serious injustice to your role as mentor and eventual colleague to the student concerned. You are not to be advising students with a financial bat at your side to knock them back into place when you think such a step is needed. You are to be advising students on the terms that you believe must be met to earn a PhD.