Oxford University has issued a statement on the 19th of March in response to the complaints regarding the conduct of the Oxford University Society India Moot Competition by the participants. In an email sent by Stephen Rouse, Head of News & Information Office, Oxford University, it was clarified that the event was not organized by the University but by the Oxford University Society India alumni group.
The statement mentioned that, “We are ourselves urgently investigating competitors’ concerns with the leadership of the alumni society. We are asking them to explain what went on at the proceedings, and to respond to specific complaints”
In summer 2013, the alumni group of Oxford University Society India first proposed to the University to conduct a Moot competition for law students in India.
The Oxford University approved of the initiative, and directed the members of the Law Faculty to discuss the moot problem with the alumni group. Italso offered to provide one or more judges for the competition and invited law students to apply to the group for the moot event.
The planning and implementation of the competition was carried out by Oxford University Society India alumni group alone. The offer by the Law Faculty to provide judges for the contest was not supported by the group.
“On February 15, the alumni group notified the Law Faculty that they did not wish to continue any sort of association with the Law Faculty. The group subsequently did not respond to the University’s requests for information concerning preparations for the Moot. No members of the Oxford Law Faculty attended the event, or were involved in the arrangements made for competitors, in the conduct of the competition, or its judging. These were all the responsibility of the alumni group”, stated the University in the email.
The University of Oxford notified that such alumni groups to be “autonomous, independently-financed groups run by volunteers”. It is the responsibility of all such organizations to maintain high standard and to keep them informed of the state of affairs of the event. The University offers advice and assistance for managing such events, but in the said moot competition the India alumni group performed all functions without intimating with the University.
“Where it is established that events have clearly fallen short of the high standards we expect, we will investigate criticism and complaints and take up relevant issues with the organizing group”, it said in reference to the shortcomings of the event.
The University disconnected all links with the Oxford University Society India from the University’s website until the full circumstances are established in the case for this Moot competition.