The High Court on Wednesday dismissed former Brasenose College student Faiz Siddiqui’s £1 million compensation claim against Oxford University after he failed to graduate with a first-class degree.
The University previously attempted to have the claim dismissed, arguing that there was no reasonable prospect of success, but this application was rejected in December 2016.
Siddiqui sought damages after obtaining a low mark in one of the seven papers he sat in June 2000 for his Finals for a BA in Modern History. The paper was the “gobbets paper”, one of two taken for a Special Subject course entitled “India, 1916—1934: Indigenous Politics and Imperial Control”.
Siddiqui claimed that “negligently inadequate teaching” of the course and the failure of his personal tutor at Brasenose to inform the examination authorities of the “insomnia, depression and anxiety” he suffered during the examination period caused the low mark.
He alleged that the low mark caused him to receive a low Upper Second rather than a high Upper Second or a First, which was not high enough for admittance into Harvard, Yale or another top US Law College. Furthermore, the Claimant felt that the “shattering blow” of his degree classification resulted in serious mental health difficulties that left him unable to hold down several jobs./
The University did not dispute that during Michaelmas Term 1999, when the Special Subject was taught to Siddiqui, that there was less teaching staff available but argued that this did not result in a lower quality of teaching.
One piece of evidence used by the Judge to dismiss the case was that Siddiqui had performed well in the Collections sat for the gobbets paper after the end of the Michaelmas Term.
The Judge accepted that Siddiqui had “suffered intermittent bouts of severe depression over the years for which he is entitled to sympathy and understanding”, but that this could not be proven to have resulted from this one examination result.
The £1 million figure was valued by his lawyers as the loss of earnings that Siddiqui suffered as a result of not receiving a First.
The University released the following statement on their website: “The University of Oxford welcomes today’s judgement dismissing the claim by Mr Siddiqui. History has been studied and taught with distinction at Oxford for longer than at almost any other university and the quality and range of its History teaching and examining across the collegiate University has long been widely recognised.”