Director's daughters on Soton petition

November 29, 1996

SOUTHAMPTON Institute director, David Leyland, ordered an investigation into complaints from students, including two of his daughters, about "unfair marking" on their course at the institute, it emerged this week.

Rebecca and Emma Leyland, who both graduated this year from the media with cultural studies course with upper second-class honours degrees, were two of the first students to sign a petition calling for an investigation into the marking of dissertations.

The protest prompted their father to demand a full report on the complaints, warning senior staff that "there may be potential grounds for appeals".

A total of 73 students are understood to have signed the petition, which was copied for David Leyland's personal attention.

Rebecca Leyland's signature appeared fourth on the petition, followed by Emma's, beneath a statement which read: "We the third-year media with cultural studies students feel it is unfair for 50 per cent of the overall dissertation mark to be allocated to only one chapter of the dissertation. It is also unfair that we were not informed of this before handing it in for marking. We are also concerned that there appears to be no attempt to achieve consistency in the marks between the different media. We would like these issues to be fully investigated."

Emma Leyland, who worked temporarily in the institute's international office from July to October this year, led the deputation which handed over the petition. Seven days later her father instructed staff to assemble a report within two weeks on issues raised by the students.

Concerns were also raised that some students on the course had been placed in a privileged position. But an inquiry by an external examiner found "no evidence that any students had been disadvantaged", and gave the course a clean bill of health. No marks were adjusted as a result of the inquiry.

A spokesman for the institute confirmed that the investigation had taken place, and that it had found no cause for concern.

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised within the institute about plans for an information technology and administration building costing about Pounds 8.7 million, which will include a directors' suite.

Building is scheduled to start this month and should be completed by autumn 1998. The project is to be funded out of the institute's reserves.

Opponents of the scheme claim the cost of the building will work out at about Pounds 1,650 per square metre, compared with an average of Pounds 750 per square metre in the south of England for that kind of building, according to prices compiled by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

David Leyland said: "The new building will give our staff and students the high standard of accommodation they deserve."

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