Oxford University has been directed to face trial over a claim for $1.6 million compensation from a student who has alleged that “boring” and “appallingly bad” tuition cost him a first-class degree, and robbed him of the high-flying legal career he deserved.
The direction was issued by High Court judge Mr. Justice Kerr, ruling that Oxford “has a case to answer” and that the arguments should be heard in a trial “as soon as possible”.
The claim has been brought about by an Indian-origin Oxford University former student, Mr. Faiz Siddiqui, who was a student of modern history at Brasenose College at the University. He has alleged that the ‘negligent’ teaching of his specialist subject course on Indian imperial history sabotaged his scores. He scored 2:1 back in 2000.
His barrister, Roger Mallalieu, has claimed that during the academic year of 1999-2000, the institution suffered from serious staff crunch, as four of the seven staff teaching Asian history went on a sabbatical leave at the same time.
Mr. Mallalieu categorically mentioned the “boring” standard of tuition received from David Washbrook, an expert on the history of southern India between the 18th and 20th centuries.
Although, he clarified that no personal attacks were intended on the eminent historian, but only to highlight the fact that his teaching was ridden with intolerable pressure of the staff shortages on the course. “There is no personal criticism of Washbrook. Our target is on the University for allowing this to happen,” Mr. Mallalieu reportedly told the Court.
If successful, the claim could open the floodgates to similar claims. Professor Alan Smithers, an education expert at Buckingham University was quoted as saying, “This is a test case and in future universities will have to ensure that what they do stands up to critical inspection in the courts. In the past, universities have been quite cavalier about the quality of their teaching. If Mr. Siddiqui wins, this will open the door to a flood of other students who do not think they got the degree they deserved because of issues about the teaching they received.”
This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.