Whistleblowers: Settlement in 'race row'

November 9, 2001

The London Institute has paid a five-figure sum to former student Brian Moore following a THES investigation that found he was unfairly excluded from his degree course after raising the alarm about racism.

The THES reported in June last year that there were "material irregularities" and procedural breaches when Mr Moore, a black student, was excluded from the final year of his film studies degree at the institute's London College of Printing.

The THES had reported in April that complaints by Mr Moore about racism had prompted a review of the college's equal opportunities policies and staff race awareness training.

In response to Mr Moore's complaints that two members of staff had made racially offensive remarks to him, college head Will Bridge admitted:

"There do indeed seem to have been two sets of incidents and conversations that should not have occurred." Mr Bridge apologised.

It also emerged that Mr Moore had been misled about the assessment of his work during a dispute over his marks. Sally Feldman, dean of the media school, apologised after it was established that Mr Moore had been wrongly informed by a tutor, Peter Wyeth, that one of his essays had been double-marked, when it had not.

"I deeply regret that this has happened," said Ms Feldman. "Second marking in the case of a second-year essay is not our policy."

The college excluded Mr Moore from the final year of his course, it said, on purely academic grounds, arguing his work was submitted late, was sub-standard and there had been allegations of plagiarism. But The THES discovered that an internal appeal committee established that there were "material irregularities" with the exam board process that led to the exclusion.

The committee found that students had not been properly informed about assessment requirements or about re-submission deadlines for failed work. Letters sent to students about assessment "did not have the authority of the board of examiners". The college had also failed to follow its procedures on allegations of plagiarism with regard to the accusations against Mr Moore.

Last week the college made the five-figure payment to Mr Moore on the eve of a county court case, in which Mr Moore was claiming damages for alleged race discrimination and breach of contract.

A spokesman for the London Institute said that the dispute related to changes to the course, not to racism. "The settlement does not represent any acceptance of liability. The dispute arose out of changes made to the college's BA honours film and video course," he said.

"These changes were introduced to widen the scope of the degree to include a wider representation of many forms of cinema and improve students' employability by bringing the course in line with developments elsewhere in industry and education... It is a matter of great regret to all concerned that these improvements resulted in a dispute with a student." The changes also led to a major staff dispute over academic freedom, and allegations of "dumbing down".

Sir Michael Bichard, rector of the institute, said: "The changes that the dean and her team have made have been profound and far-ranging but the school now has educational programmes designed for the 21st century, its staff have a clear sense of purpose and its students tell us they have an enormously rewarding educational experience.

"Changes of such importance and such magnitude can often provoke unease and I am sorry that Brian Moore alone has felt the need to express his disquiet in this way."

But Mr Moore is furious about the college statement. He said: " The THES was right. Arguments about the course change were absolutely secondary. This was about race."

Want to blow the whistle?
Contact Phil Baty on 020 7782 3298
or email him on phil.batythes.co.uk

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