Fight for certificate without errors

July 12, 1996

Students pay towards their higher education and want value for money. THES reporters look at the university appeals system and what happens when degree courses are not all they were advertised to be. In 1992, Gaspar Vahramian successfully completed a City and Guilds photography course at South Manchester College of Further Education. Four years later, having spent Pounds 3,000 on legal bills, he has yet to receive the certificate he needs to prove it. This week he learned that a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday was adjourned until later in the year.

The problem began soon after his one-year course had ended. Mr Vahramian says City and Guilds provided his course certificate in the normal way but claims that it was invalid because his name was misspelt and the date of the course was incorrect.

"These details matter to potential employers," Mr Vahramian says. "All this does is give rise to suspicion. This has hindered my career prospects."

Mr Vahramian found that employers both here and overseas wanted to see the original certificate as proof of his qualification.

After unsuccessfully pursuing his case through the Department for Education and several education agencies Mr Vahramian called in a lawyer 18 months later. After an initial complaint City and Guilds provided a second certificate which still had errors.

Mr Vahramian claims the organisation refused to help him further or to provide the correct certificate despite despatching several further inaccurate documents. City and Guilds would not comment on the case this week.

South Manchester College made an out of court settlement but Mr Vahramian is determined to pursue the matter in the courts with the awarding body despite the fact that he risks losing up to Pounds 20,000 in costs if the case goes against him.

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