'Humiliated' ex-Birmingham student seeks £10m

June 19, 2008

The University of Birmingham is being sued for £10 million by a former student.

Canadian Ikenchukwu Ukevi-Aruevoru is claiming the sum as compensation for "damages, losses, expenses and debts" arising from alleged negligent and malicious actions against him during the course of his PhD studies.

Mr Ukevi-Aruevoru started his PhD at Birmingham's department of mechanical and manufacturing engineering in September 2003.

In legal documents quoted by The Birmingham Post newspaper, the former student claims he was "humiliated and scorned" by his tutors, mocked during an oral exam by one tutor and that an examiner in the oral test was not an expert in the field.

He also claims that his two course supervisors were biased against him.

Mr Ukevi-Aruevoru asked for compensation for loss of the PhD and the "pain and humiliation and stress" caused as a result of "discrimination and unfair treatment".

The writ also demands payment for a "mountain of financial debt and interest on that debt".

A university spokesperson said that Mr Ukevi-Aruevoru's initial work "did not proceed satisfactorily and there were concerns as to whether he would be able to complete his research to a sufficiently high standard to obtain a doctorate".

His supervisors were "concerned that he had not grasped the project and the nature of doctoral-level research as being fundamentally different from a taught course", the spokesperson said.

A nine-month review was postponed by three months to give him time to revise his work.

His supervisors later concluded that he had not made sufficient progress, the university said.

"Following the review in October 2004 Mr Ukevi-Aruevoru took leave of absence and did not return to the university.

"His complaint was, however, investigated fully by a senior academic who had not previously been involved in the matter and was found not proven," the Birmingham spokesperson said.

"The university provides rigorous supervision and examining to all its programmes to ensure that the highest academic standards are achieved by its students."

melanie.newman@tsleducation.com.

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