Worcester University College
(THES 12. November 1999)

Worcester University College is facing a challenge from one of its graduates who claims poor course management robbed him of a first-class degree.

Symon Garfield had notched up five grade As on Worcester' modular information technology with business management program and needed one more to secure a first. But he gained only a pass grade in the final module on the principles of artificial intelligence, and was awarded a 2:1.

The college refused to revise the grades despite complaints from Mr. Garfield and other students on the course that software needed to complete the module arrived so late that they received only a quarter of the scheduled tutorial time.

Mr Garfield, as student representative for the course, wrote on behalf of himself and 18 fellow students in protest against this and the fact that a visiting lecturer had to be recruited at short notice to teach the module.

His appeal is due to be considered by Worcester's academic board on December 15., but he said he was not optimistic about the likely outcome.

"When I first tried to appeal the college said I would not get a first because my grade-point average was not high enough. But that is unfair because when I first joined the course I was told I could gain a first either with a profile of six grade As or a grade-point average", he said.

"I deliberately went for the six As, sometimes to the detriment of my grade average. But now the college seems to be trying to change the rules because it managed this module badly".

The college said Mr. Garfield was the only student to appeal against his final mark. But he replied that this was because he was the only one who needed an A grade on the module to get a first.

Academic Registrar Rod Coveney said he could not comment further until the academic board had considered the case.

Laura Spence

American Student

Cambridge makes student wait nine months

Phil Baty, phil.baty@thes.co.uk

Cambridge University took more than nine months to confirm to a self-funded American postgraduate student that it has no procedures for hearing her academic appeal. The university confirmed that it had no facility for handling complaints from successful MPhil students who are denied leave to continue to a PhD. "A decision not to allow a successful candidate for the MPhil degree to proceed to a further degree is not a decision in connection with the MPhil examinations within the meaning and spirit of' the regulations, Cambridge said. 'The student, who has been living in the UK while waiting for the outcome of her represen- tations, said the decision-makers were not made aware of problems she had experienced with supervision, including a personality clash with her supervisor, a number of cancelled supervisions and a period of sickness she suffered. She also claims that colleagues who received similar results were allowed to continue. Cambridge's review committee told her this month that her representations are dismissed because "they do not fall within regulations".