A Nigerian student, Josephine Lawal, has taken the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, United Kingdom, before the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for High Education (OIA) over the varsity’s cancellation of her doctorate programme despite paying £20,000 for school fees.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the matter has been assigned to a case worker, Lana Florentino
The OIA is the last resort for student complaints in England and Wales and reviews cases after students have exhausted all options of getting redress.
Lawal started her PhD at the London campus of the university in 2012 and alleged that the first supervisor assigned to her, Dr Rob Harris, left her for one year.
She also told our correspondent that another supervisor assigned to her, Dr Sunita Dewitt, was inexperienced, adding that complaints to the varsity about the poor
supervision of her project went unheeded.
The Kwara State indigene claimed that after submitting her thesis in December 2016, the varsity broke its own rule by bringing Harris for the viva (oral defence), adding that the external supervisor was also late by about one hour.
While demanding a refund of her £20,000 school fees, she said the school later offered to convert her programme to a master of philosophy (Mphil).
After she re-presented the thesis, there were more complaints, and later the programme was cancelled.
The 33-year-old claimed that her ordeal was because she was a black student, adding that white students were not subjected to such maltreatments.
The university, in its reaction, denied the allegations, saying it discovered “academic misconducts” in the student’s thesis.
It also claimed that options of appeal given to Lawal were not explored by the student.
The student, in her rebuttal to the reaction, said she appealed twice, adding that the school rejected them.
She expressed shock at the claim of “academic misconducts” in her work, saying a mail sent to her by the varsity informed her of a certain degree of plagiarism in her project.
“My colleagues had this issue and they were told to adjust the thesis and resubmit as a PhD thesis. I do not understand the reason mine was different.
“There have been many researches in my chosen topic area and this may have contributed to the percentage of plagiarism; but the body of my work is original…” she said.
Lawal informed our correspondent that she had already detailed her ordeal at the varsity in a letter to the OIA and hoped to get justice.
In the letter, obtained by PUNCH Metro, she accused the management of racism, partiality, bias and time wastage.
“I want justice against this discrimination, maltreatment and stressful situations caused by University of Wales Trinity Saint David. I want my tuition refunded and compensation for the stress,” the letter said.
The OIA, in its response, demanded evidence for Lawal’s claims against the school, including proof that she complained about her supervisors.
The student then sent some documents, including evidence that she had exhausted all options to get redress.
“Dear Ms Lawal, thank you for this. I will follow up with the university and will get back in touch with you as soon as I hear from the university,” the casework administrator, Florentino, replied.