UK university denies racism allegation by Nigerian PhD student

UK university denies racism allegation by Nigerian PhD student

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The University of Wales Trinity Saint David, United Kingdom, has denied allegations of racism levelled against it by a former student, Josephine Lawal.

The university, in a statement sent to Newsmen, claimed that the doctorate programme of the 33-year-old was voided because of observed “academic misconduct” in her thesis.

Lawal started her doctorate at the London campus of the university in 2012 and alleged that the first supervisor assigned to her, Dr Rob Harris, left her for one year.

She had told Newsmen that another supervisor assigned to her, Dr Sunita Dewitt, was inexperienced, adding that her complaints to the institution went unheeded.

She claimed that after submitting her thesis in December 2016, the school broke its own rule by bringing Harris for the viva (oral defence), adding that the external supervisor was also late by about one hour.

While demanding a refund of her £20,000 school fees, she said the university later offered to convert her programme to a Master’s.

After she re-presented the thesis, there were more complaints and later the programme was cancelled.

Lawal claimed that her ordeal was because she was a student of colour, adding that a white student would not suffer such maltreatment.

The university had initially refused to respond to enquiries by our correspondent, citing the UK data protection laws.

Lawal was asked to write a letter to the school authorising it to respond to the allegations, which she did.

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In the response mailed to our correspondent, the university’s press office confirmed that Lawal was a registered student.

It wrote, “Following the examination of her PhD in October 2017, Ms Lawal was informed that her PhD submission had not achieved the required standards and she was therefore offered the opportunity to submit the work, with amendments, for the award of MPhil.

“Ms Lawal appealed this decision, which was disallowed by the university’s internal appeals procedure. We advised her that the university subscribes to the independent scheme for the review of student complaints and if she was dissatisfied with the outcome, she should apply for a review of her appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education. She did not act upon this advice.

“Ms Lawal then resubmitted her work for consideration of the award of an MPhil. The examination process established, in line with the university procedures, that there was academic misconduct within the thesis and determined that she should not be awarded a degree. Ms Lawal appealed this decision, but the appeal was disallowed. Ms Lawal was advised that she had the right to request a review of the decision, but again (she) did not do so.”

The management distanced itself from racism and all forms of discriminatory behaviour.

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