by LAUREN CODLING
OXFORD University alumni have said final grades are down to “individual effort”, in response to a graduate who attempted to sue the school for “inadequate” teaching.
Faiz Siddiqui, who graduated in 2000 with a 2:1 in modern history, tried to sue the school for £1 million claiming his “disappointing” grade was due to staff absence and insufficient teaching cover.
According to the 38-year-old, he had been unable to pursue a successful career in law and had suffered from depression after the result. His claim was dismissed by courts earlier this month.
Monica Ali, the acclaimed author of Brick Lane, told Eastern Eye on Monday (19), she suspected similar cases such as Siddiqui’s would continue to come forward in years to come.
“Students are becoming ‘consumers of education’ because of the high tuition fees that all universities charge,” she said. “They will demand their customer rights and assert themselves if they feel they are being short-changed.”
Graduating with a 2:1 at Oxford, Ali said throughout her years at the prestigious school, she never thought to question how much her teachers contributed to her grades.
“I just felt incredibly lucky and privileged to be there,” she recalled. “I was happy to get a 2:1, because despite feeling lucky to be there, I wasted most of time there reading novels when I should have been reading politics and economics, and I never went to lectures.
“I did put some more effort in during my final year, and in the end for those sort of essay subjects, doing the work is really up to the student, I’d say.”
Earlier this month, data showed Oxford University was on the top ten list of UK universities with the largest number of students achieving first-class grades.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 33.9 per cent of students were awarded firsts during 2016-17.
Indian news anchor and author Rajdeep Sardesai told Eastern Eye he shared Ali’s views and believed grades were mostly down to individual determination.
“Grades are ultimately almost always about individual effort,” he said. “Be it in Oxford or Mumbai!”
Having studied in India and going on to secure multiple degrees at University College, Oxford, the journalist remembers his time at the institution with joy.
“I had a wonderful education at Oxford that went beyond tutorials to simply learning about aspects of life that went beyond law books,” Sardesai recalled. “Was it worth it? Yes, on balance it was. My tutors became friends for life!”
Rajeeb Dey, the CEO of Learnerbly, the workplace learning platform powered by experts, said he felt it was not fair to blame the teaching for a disappointing grade in regards to Siddiqui’s complaints.
“If this were a legal case brought about by a group of law students from [Siddiqui’s year group] all claiming to have had similarly inadequate teaching, that would perhaps be something which would require further scrutiny,” Dey said.
“However, it seems to be an isolated case and as such a 2:1 is still a very respectable result.”
Dey, who graduated from Oxford with a first-class degree in economics and management, explained that despite the environment and access to some of the world’s leading academics, results rely on the individuals own hard work and effort.
“Whilst you definitely benefit from having access to some of the world’s leading academics, a lot of the onus is on you to manage the heavy workload,” Dey said. “At the end of the day, you have to put the hard work in yourself if you’re hoping to get a first class.”