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16/03/2018 18:13 SAST | Updated 16/03/2018 18:13 SAST

A Woman Is Suing Her University For Providing A 'Micky Mouse Degree' - If She Wins It Will Set A Dangerous Precedent

It's preposterous

A general view of students wearing Mortar Boards and Gowns after graduating from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.
PA Archive/PA Images
A general view of students wearing Mortar Boards and Gowns after graduating from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.
PA Archive/PA Images

I find it ridiculous that a student is suing Anglia Ruskin University for providing a ‘Mickey Mouse degree’ that didn’t help her find a job. Pok Wong, who graduated with a first-class degree in International Business Strategy in 2013 is seeking £60,000 for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.

Her argument falls down on so many levels. Wong told the Sunday Telegraph that she was impressed by the uni’s prospectus but ‘as soon as I started I realised there were failings’. So why not leave then? Many students switch courses and universities in the early stages.

Her legal papers state that Anglia Ruskin’s marketing boasted of being a ‘renowned centre of excellence’, ensuring students were ‘well equipped’ for jobs in business and consultancy work. Well, the prospectus is a sales brochure but didn’t she do any other research? Visit the place beforehand? Google testimonials from past students?

She left with a first-class degree in the subject of her choice so in my opinion, the university did its job. She is well equipped for careers in business and consultancy but whether or not she impresses at interview or thrives in the workplace is down to her. She says that since graduating ‘it has been proven that the degree does not… secure a rewarding job with prospects.’ I think the word ‘rewarding’ is paramount here. International business strategy does not necessarily mean an exciting, jet-setting career. Jobs may be as dull as ditchwater but that’s not the university’s fault.

Another of Wong’s gripes, which I find laughable, is that her lecturer encouraged her to self study. Isn’t that the whole point of higher education? No more hand holding. It’s not school. They’re adults.

With fees so high, I agree there has to be an element of buyer beware before sinking tens of thousands of pounds into a degree and it is right that universities are penalised for false advertising. Yet, there has to be some personal responsibility from the student for signing up to the course in the first place and deciding how much work they were going to put in to it.

 

This legal challenge comes as the government announces uni courses will soon be given ratings so prospective students can make ‘consumer style’ choices, comparing courses and institutions in order to get value for money. Courses will be awarded gold, silver and bronze on matters such as future job prospects, likely earnings and drop-out rates.

I’m sure aggrieved student Pok Wong is all for this but I find it equally preposterous. Firstly, that information is already out there in league tables and in student testimonials – you just have to look for it. Secondly, qualifications are not an exact science. It would be misleading to tell an 18-year-old that by merely getting on to a Maths degree at York means they’re guaranteed a £50,000-a-year job at Goldman Sachs. Just like not everyone with a Physics degree from Oxford will become the next Stephen Hawking.

I hope Wong doesn’t win this case as it will set a dangerous precedent with students cruising through any old course and then trying to recoup the investment through the courts. Education has always been an expensive business but if we go down this route, it’s looking increasingly murky to me.

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