Student wins review

August 4, 1995

A law student who took her university to the High Court in a year-long battle against allegations of plagiarism has won a reassessment of her third-class degree.

The offer came after Christine Ifediora won leave for judicial review over her treatment by South Bank University.

Miss Ifediora was given no marks for an essay project which examiners considered contained too much unreferenced source material. She maintained she had not been given adequate guidance on presenting the project, having missed much of the final-year first term while pregnant.

Jaswinder Gill, Miss Ifediora's solicitor, claimed South Bank's move was a victory for all students who felt shut out by the inner workings of university exam proceedings. Mr Gill said: "The case does have wider implications because many students have readily accepted these sorts of decisions in the past without realising they can fight them."

It took Miss Ifediora nine months to gain access to minutes of the university's July 1994 examination board. South Bank released them after a judge at a hearing in April said he hoped it would do so voluntarily. The decision not to allow her to resubmit was upheld on appeal to the board of examiners last September.

Miss Ifediora switched project tutor in November 1993 and only met her new tutor for the first time in March 1994, seven weeks before the work was due in. Her requests for an extension were refused.

Her third-class law degree meant she lost out on the likely offer of articles with an East London firm.

"I was given no advice or guidance about the format and layout of a project of this size and was certainly not told about the need for footnotes or how to refer to source materials used," her affidavit to the High Court said.

"I am trying to argue it could not have been plagiarism because I did not intend it and I referenced the book as I had always done," she added. "I think it is unfair because there are rules and regulations in industry for women who are pregnant and there is nothing in education. I would not have been in this position if I had not been pregnant.

"They are going to reconsider internally. If they make the same decision I am going to fight on because I am not going to be penalised for having a baby."

A university spokeswoman confirmed Miss Ifediora's case would be reconsidered by examiners in September.

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