Aggrieved student takes files to the net

February 3, 2006

A law student whose complaints about the quality of his course won him a landmark £30,000 financial settlement from Wolverhampton University has launched a trio of websites for students and parents to expose perceived failings in higher education, writes Phil Baty.

Mike Austen, a 58-year-old former airline pilot who is studying law at Bristol University, has published previously unseen documents relating to his grievances against Wolverhampton. It includes evidence that he was given poor marks for an essay graded first class in an external review that he was not told about.

His website on Wolverhampton ( warns that the information on the site is "not for the timid". It links to a separate interactive forum that he hopes will encourage students to come forward with grievances and share information and advice about how to seek redress.

A third site is dedicated to UK schools.

"All three Education Issues Organisation websites combine to publicly inform and vigorously protest," Mr Austen says.

"They are intended to provide a means by which pupils, teachers, students, tutors, lecturers, administrators and, by far the most important, parents and guardians may unite to form an interactive and supportive community within which to engage in constructive and purposeful debate."

The Times Higher first reported on Mr Austen's concerns in October 2001, when it was revealed that staff at Wolverhampton's Law School had admitted to handing out exam papers containing errors and to serious problems with student cheating.

Wolverhampton said that the matters raised by Mr Austen had "been appropriately resolved through the courts".


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