The High Court has dismissed Oxford graduate Faiz Siddiqui’s case against Oxford University. Siddiqui had sought damages of £1m after receiving a low 2:1 instead of the first he expected.
The History student, who graduated from Brasenose College in 2000, claimed his academic disappointment had been due to poor teaching in his Indian Special Subject.
The University said in a statement: “History has been studied and taught with distinction at Oxford for longer than at almost any other university and the quality and range of its History teaching and examining across the collegiate University has long been widely recognised.”
According to the court summary, Siddiqui claimed his exam performance had prevented him from gaining a position at a top American Law college and had given him a “shattering blow” that had precipitated serious mental health issues.
Siddiqui achieved his poorest marks in the History ‘gobbets’ paper.
Siddiqui claimed that he had only been taught enough material to answer “5% of the gobbets”.
However, it was suggested that Siddiqui’s poor performance could have been explained by a number of factors, including “a severe episode of hay fever.”
A subject ambassador for History at Corpus Christi College, Emily Foster, said: “It is definitely possible to do all the work in the world and still have a terrible paper – not everything comes up every year.
“Generally the teaching can vary a lot depending on the tutor’s interests but we have so few contact hours (typically no more than 3-4 a week) that I really couldn’t see that affecting his degree substantially.
“Most of our work is pretty self-guided. As you can probably tell whilst I sympathise with Siddiqui I can’t really imagine any degree of bad teaching setting him that far back given how much work we do ourselves.”
The court concluded: “When students are incurring substantial debts to pursue their university education, the quality of the education delivered will undoubtedly come under even greater scrutiny than it did in the past.
“There may be some rare cases where some claim for compensation for the inadequacy of the tuition provided may succeed, but it is hardly the ideal way of achieving redress.
“Litigation is costly, time and emotion consuming and runs the significant risk of failure, particularly in this area where establishing a causative link between the quality of teaching and any alleged “injury” is fraught with difficulty.
“There must be a better way of dealing with this kind of issue if it cannot be resolved by the individual concerned simply accepting what has happened and finding a positive way forward.”