An Oxford graduate is suing his old university for £1 million (US$1,324,415) on the grounds that his failure to get a top degree 17 years ago cost him the chance of a lucrative legal career. Faiz Siddiqui alleges he received “inadequate” teaching during parts of his course.
Siddiqui, 39, says the Indian special part of his modern history course was not taught properly because staff were absent on sabbatical leave, and claims his tutors failed to submit medical information about him to examiners. This 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, the High Court heard.
Siddiqui claims he would have become an international commercial lawyer if he had gained the top qualification at the end of his time at Brasenose College, the Guardian reports. He adds further that his clinical depression and insomnia have been significantly worsened by his “inexplicable failure.”
Siddiqui’s counsel, Roger Mallalieu, told Justice Foskett that his client had been a “driven young man,” aiming at a postgraduate qualification at an Ivy League university. “While a 2:1 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.”
Mallalieu said Siddiqui’s employment history in legal and tax roles was “frankly poor” and he was now unemployed. He expected his client would have had a career at the tax bar in England or a major US law firm, he added.
“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 favored 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.”
Oxford denies negligence and causation, and says the case is “massively” outside the legal time frame. Julian Milford, for the university, told the court that Siddiqui complained about insufficient resources but had only described the teaching as “a little bit dull.”
Millford added that the student received exactly the same amount of teaching as he would have in any other year. His poor performance in one particularly difficult paper could be explained by serious hay fever he was suffering at the time, which also affected his revision and was taken into account, Millford said.
The seven-day hearing is concerned only with liability. Damages will be assessed later if Siddiqui succeeds.