High Court rules students should have gone to OIA

January 22, 2009

The High Court has criticised two students for turning to the courts with cases against their universities last year instead of using the Office for the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).

Proceedings against King's College London brought by student Peng Hu Shi were "misconceived", the court ruled.

The third-year computer science student was investigated for cheating after the discovery of Post-it notes inside an examination answer book.

She did not receive notice of the misconduct hearing as she was out of the country, and it was held in her absence.

Ms Hu Shi argued for an appeal on the basis that if she had cheated she would not have left the notes behind in the examination hall.

King's College London disallowed the appeal on the grounds that there had been no procedural error, but later offered an appeal after the student challenged the decision through her lawyers. It also suggested that the student approach the OIA.

Ms Hu Shi declined both suggestions and began a claim for judicial review.

The court found that the decision not to accept the college's offer of an appeal or to complain to the OIA was misconceived.

Dismissing the student's claim, Mr Justice Mitting told the court: "Although I do criticise the principal (Rick Trainor) for refusing to permit an appeal to go forward, there is no remedy that I am prepared to grant ...

"(Ms Hu Shi) did not, as she should have done, pursue her complaint to the OIA and it is not appropriate and never was appropriate to bring this claim for judicial review."

Mr Justice Mitting awarded costs to the university.

In the second case, the High Court refused student Richard Carnell's claim for a judicial review of a decision by Regent's Park College, University of Oxford, to exclude him from parts of a hearing into claims of sexual harassment.

Mr Carnell should have submitted his claim to the OIA, the court found.


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