Rising starlet fires at college

June 29, 2001

A rising star of haute couture claims his career has been damaged by unfair treatment at the hands of Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication.

Jan Bertelsen, a third-year undergraduate who has won the praise of designers such as Bruce Oldfield and whose embroidered dresses have been featured in Hello magazine, had his work excluded from the college's final-year degree show during London Graduate Fashion Week.

Mr Bertelsen claims his exclusion was unfair and says he has been denied access to the college's complaints procedures. In protest, he attempted to hijack the degree show in East London by staging an impromptu event, complete with models, but was ejected by security guards.

Mr Bertelsen is considering legal action. He was told in May that he had not met the criteria for inclusion in the show. He had failed to provide two completed outfits for a review of his work in advance of the show, and his tutors said the work "did not illustrate the realisation of his statement of intent".

Mr Bertelsen said he had not been properly informed of the entry criteria. Students were informed in a hand-out issued during the Easter break, when Mr Bertelsen was in Denmark.

Mr Bertelsen's lawyer has written to college principal Robin Baker. He said there was "clear evidence of a pattern of hostile, capricious, unfair and at times irrational behaviour on the part of tutors towards our client".

The college declined to examine the complaints in detail. After a second letter, Mr Baker replied. He claimed that Mr Bertelsen had "chosen to ignore the college's complaint procedure" by engaging lawyers. Nothing in the complaints procedure precludes legal representation.

The college's head of academic affairs, Sarah Gershon, said: "At no point did Bertelsen try to access the college's complaints procedure."

She said Mr Bertelsen left early for the Easter vacation and returned late, missing crucial communications.

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