Not everyone ends up having the most incredible time at university, with the experience capped off nicely with a dozen dazzling job offers.
Personally, I enjoyed having a few years reading and writing, even though the lack of contact hours – commonplace within humanities departments – admittedly left me feeling a little directionless and lonely.
For some graduates, the university experience leaves them feeling deeply disappointed, without the knowledge, skills and connections they had hoped to gain. Some have even felt as if they have been misled by university marketing materials.
Although she graduated with a first in 2013, Pok Wong, now 30, was far from satisfied with the international business strategy degree she had completed at Anglia Ruskin University.
Ms Wong – who also goes by the name Fiona – sued her former university over what she regards to be a ‘Mickey Mouse degree’, and has now received an out-of-court settlement of £61,000.
As reported by The Guardian, Ms Wong sued Anglia Ruskin for false advertising, disputing their claim to provide ‘high-quality’ teaching.
Ms Wong – who claims the settlement will barely cover her costs, tuition fees and legal fees – has expressed concerns over universities exagerating the merits of their courses and career prospeects within their brochures.
Ms Wong, who now works as a paralegal in Hong Kong, claims the course suffered from a shortage of teachers, reused resources in various classes, badly explained concepts and held un-stimulating lectures where lecturers would sometimes turn up late and send students away for independent study part way through.
Ms Wong has claimed contact time was cut suddenly in the middle of her course, and has also criticised Anglia Ruskin for exagerating their connections with the world of business.
Speaking with The Guardian, Ms Wong revealed she had raised complaints while at university, but to no avail:
I raised my complaints with the university but they didn’t do anything, they said I was the only student who complained so perhaps that was my own issue.
I had no way to complain, but there were a lot of students who were not happy.
The university is focused on its own commercial interests rather than those of the students.
Their focus is on how to recruit as many students as possible regardless of their resources.
[…] I want to encourage other people to follow suit. This was not for the £61,000 – if you have followed me from the beginning you’ll have seen that I spent much more money and time on this than that.
Ms Wong has alleged Anglia Ruskin offered a higher amount to settle the case privately out-of-court, but with a non-disclosure agreement.
However, the Cambridgeshire based university has claimed Ms Wong had offered to sign the non-disclosure agreement for a higher sum, but they refused the offer.
As reported by The Guardian, Anglia Ruskin have released a statement maintaining that the settlement does not prove the university was at fault:
Ms Wong’s longstanding litigation … has been settled at the instruction of our insurers to draw a line under these matters and to prevent a further escalation of their legal costs.
The claims were wholly without merit and resulted in cost orders made against Ms Wong by the Central London county court on two occasions.
In 2018, the County Court of Central London ruled in Anglia Ruskin’s favour, ordering Ms Wong to pay £13,700 of Anglia Ruskin’s legal costs.
However, the university’s insurers wrote to Ms Wong, offering to settle her £15,000 claim, as well as the payment of her legal costs.
As reported by the BBC, Anglia Ruskin have said they don’t support their insurer’s solicitors decision, stating: ‘We consider that they acted negligently and against the university’s interests’.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.