Graduate with 2:2 degree takes Oxford university to court

An Oxford graduate's failure to get a top degree cost him the chance of a lucrative legal career, the British High Court has heard.

Faiz Siddiqui alleges the "inadequate" teaching he received on the Indian special subject part of his modern history course resulted in him only getting a low upper second degree when he took his finals in June 2000 instead of a First or high 2:1.

He blames the situation on staff being absent on sabbatical leave.

He also alleges that medical information about him was not submitted to the examiners by a tutor.

Mr Siddiqui, 39, who has put his claim at £1m, says he would have become an international commercial lawyer if he had gained the top qualification at the end of his time at Brasenose College.

He claims that his clinical depression and insomnia have been significantly exacerbated by his "inexplicable failure".

In London today, his counsel Roger Mallalieu told Mr Justice Foskett that in 2000, Mr Siddiqui was a "driven young man" aiming at a postgraduate qualification at an Ivy League university before a career at the tax bar in England or a major US law firm.

"Whilst a 2:1 degree from Oxford might rightly seem like a tremendous achievement to most, it fell significantly short of Mr Siddiqui's expectations and was, to him, a huge disappointment."

His employment history after Oxford in legal and tax roles was "frankly poor" and he was now unemployed, said Mr Mallalieu.

"Mr Siddiqui has been badly let down by Oxford.

"He went there with high - perhaps extraordinarily high - expectations.

"He - and others - became the victim of poor teaching provision by the University in what was anticipated to be his favoured special subject and he, uniquely among his peers, was further disadvantaged by his personal tutor not conveying his knowledge of his illnesses to those responsible for making reasonable adjustments and for moderating his examinations."

A view of (L-R) Brasenose College, the Radcliffe Camera (a library), the Codrington Library and All Souls' College in Oxford.

Oxford University denies negligence and causation and says the case was brought "massively" outside the legal time limit.

The seven day hearing is concerned only with liability - with damages to be assessed later if Mr Siddiqui succeeds.


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