Deakin student quits after victimisation claim

April 7, 1995

A 34-year-old Englishman who made national headlines in Australia last year after threatening to take Deakin University to the Trade Practices Commission for misleading advertising, has quit his studies claiming victimisation.

Steve Jones left the university late last month and flew out of Australia to the Solomon Islands. Deakin immediately rejected the allegation but also issued a statement agreeing Mr Jones was no longer a student of the university.

Enrolling at Deakin in February 1994 to undertake a two-year master's degree in development studies, Mr Jones paid $9,600 (Pounds 4,800) for the first year but was unhappy with some of the study notes, and the fact he was attending tutorials with undergraduates using the same material and undergoing similar assessment.

He later told journalists he intended to complain to the TPC and said promotional material about the course he had seen in Hong Kong, while on leave from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, contravened Australia's Trade Practices Act.

After the university said it would correct the notes and waive the cost of one of his next semester's units, he dropped the case.

Until the start of this year, Mr Jones appeared to be happy with the outcome and was halfway through his course, with the prospect of going to the Solomon Islands on behalf of the UN and using the experience as a practical component of his studies.

Last month, however, Mr Jones suddenly left the university claiming he had been victimised and a campaign was being waged to persuade him to stop his studies. "It could be perceived that the last student they want at Deakin University is Steve Jones," he said.

He claimed the university had attempted to intimidate him and had denied him the opportunity to sit on certain student committees. "What worries me is that Deakin seems quite prepared to run roughshod over students and that the university is more interested in how much money it can accrue, rather than providing students with a sound education," he said.

But Mr Jones had lost the support of his fellow students at Deakin and postgraduate associations. The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, which used the case to highlight dissatisfaction among postgraduates with the quality of fee-paying courses, also disassociated itself from him and his complaints.

After a meeting with a senior Deakin official, Mr Jones said: "the relationship between me and the university is concluded."

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