I was recently involved in a case where an international PhD student, who after three years of working on his thesis, was not granted his PhD.

He went to his viva, after two hours of hard talk, he was told his work was not of standard and not worthy of a PhD. No downgrading to MPhil, no major corrections for 6 or 12 months, nothing, just a no sorry no PhD for you today.

After review of the documents it became apparent that this client was struggling from the outset, not really ever meeting the required standard. Yet despite countless emails documenting the fact that this student really was not progressing, he was allowed to pass transfer status. Transfer status effectively means that you have been assessed independently internally at the University and those assessors think you have a realistic chance of achieving your PhD. Yet all the evidence in my client’s case pointed the other way, from the feedback he had been receiving from his supervisor from the outset, and even Head of Department, suggested quite the contrary. So it seems rather bizarre that he would have passed transfer status.    

So why was my client allowed to continue all the way up to the viva? Did the fact that he was paying international fee rates have anything to do with it? In the three years my client had been studying at the Institution he had parted with approximately £90,000 in fees.

I have never before had to argue to an Appeal Panel that the University should have in fact withdrawn my client years earlier, or at the very least followed their comprehensive Warning Policy.  

The outcome? My client has a further 12 months to undertake major corrections and then resubmit his thesis. This is what my client wanted, however I cannot help wondering whether my client deserves more…

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