DCU student challenging exclusion for 'inappropriate behaviour' will cite 'cultural differences'

By Ann O'Loughlin

A Dublin City University student has been given leave by the High Court to challenge a decision by college authorities to exclude him from his course over inappropriate behaviour, but what he says could be explained by "cultural differences".

Lifeng Han, a Chinese national who is a PhD student in computing, was formally excluded by the college authorities last February over what a disciplinary committee decided was unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour.

Today, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted Frank Callanan SC, for Mr Han, leave to challenge the decision of the disciplinary investigation. The application was made on a one-side only represented basis.

The Dublin City University campus

Mr Callanan said his client was excluded from classes and college facilities last September. However, he also lives on campus and now fears his accommodation could be under threat as a result of the disciplinary finding.

His exclusion was formally notified following a disciplinary hearing last February. He sought to appeal the decision but was refused last month.

Mr Callanan said it was their case he was denied fair procedures including because a member of the disciplinary committee also had a prosecutorial role in the matter.

Mr Han says the allegations against him "could be explained by way of cultural differences", counsel said. However, he never got the opportunity to make that case.

He was accompanied to the disciplinary hearing by two friends, he was not in a position to put his case, counsel said. He is reasonably fluent in English, he said.

The findings of the disciplinary committee were professionally and personally devastating to him, counsel said.

He is now concerned both about his accommodation and about a €16,000 stipend for living expenses he receives, Mr Callanan said.

Mr Justice Noonan granted leave to bring the proceedings and also granted liberty to him to apply for an injunction in the event of any immediate danger to his accommodation situation.

The case comes back in October.

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