Aston University may face an unprecedented legal bid for more than Pounds 100,000 in damages by a former research student. Any test case could open the floodgates to similar claims.
Kevin Wilkinson has already received an apology and a full refund of his PhD fees from the university, which failed to give him the agreed research supervision. Mr Wilkinson left a teaching job in Dubai in 1997 to discover his supervisor had left Aston.
He has applied for legal aid to mount a test case for damages, with pioneering education lawyer Jaswinder Gill. If aid is granted, Mr Wilkinson will claim compensation for the cost of leaving his job and moving his family to Birmingham and then to Norwich, where he is doing his PhD at the University of East Anglia.
He will also claim for lost earnings, relating to "wasted time". Mr Wilkinson said: "We are out of pocket big time with all the moving about, and the kids have suffered a lot. This is not the sort of thing we wanted to come back to England for."