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Student News

Here’s how a grad got £61K over a university complaint

Ever wondered if your degree is really worth the money that it costs you? One grad made a complaint about her "Mickey Mouse" degree – and years later has been given £61K over it.

Pok Wong protesting at Anglia Ruskin University graduation

Credit: Fiona Pok – Facebook

When Pok Wong complained to Anglia Ruskin University over the alleged false advertising of her degree, she asked for a pretty hefty £60,000.

As an international student from Hong Kong, Ms Wong, also known as Fiona, graduated from Anglia Ruskin University with a first-class degree in International Business Strategy in 2013. But, she went on to claim the university failed to deliver the quality of teaching and resources that it'd promised.

After her complaints were rejected by several bodies, including Anglia Ruskin University, she's now been offered £61,000 in an out-of-court settlement. Here's why...

Why Pok Wong complained

Beware signs at Anglia Ruskin University open day

Credit: Fiona Pok – Facebook

In a BBC interview, Ms Wong explained that her complaints were not specifically about whether she's been able to get a job with her degree, as has been previously reported.

Instead, she's claimed the uni exaggerated both their network with employers and the career prospects for students who study with them.

During her graduation ceremony, Ms Wong claimed the university "locked" her in a room after she tried to draw attention to the poor quality of teaching at Anglia Ruskin University. But, discussing this incident, a spokesperson from the uni told The Independent in 2018:

The student was asked to leave the stage and sat in a room adjacent to it. She was free to leave at any time and got up and left, of her own accord, once the ceremony was over.

In a video from 2013, Ms Wong stands in her graduation gown and cap – talking about her problems with her degree. She said in the clip:

Today's my graduation and I come back from Hong Kong... not for the graduation, I come back to tell people, to tell the public, what's the truth in that university.

Some of the lecturers, they're really lazy – they turn up to the classroom late and they sometimes, even in the middle of the class, they send students to the library to self-study because they have nothing to teach.

Anglia Ruskin University has consistently rejected Ms Wong’s complaints. But, she told Save the Student:

Despite the fact that the judge made a judgement against me, the fact that the defendant’s legal representative offered such an amount to settle the case has proven that they had recognized wrong was done to me.

I had a good case to win if I appealed and continued.

Anglia Ruskin University disagrees with the settlement

Signs for Anglia Ruskin University

Credit: Tim Hallam – Georgaph

Ms Wong’s been complaining about her uni for several years, continuing past various rejections of her claims along the way. A spokesperson from Anglia Ruskin University said:

Ms Wong’s long-running litigation against the university has been rejected numerous times and has never been upheld.

Her complaints have also been rejected by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator and by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

In 2017 the Central London County Court ruled against Ms Wong ordering her to pay the university £4,000 costs, and in 2018 the court struck out her claim of false advertising and ordered Ms Wong to pay a further £13,700 costs.

As well as highlighting previous times Ms Wong’s complaints were rejected, the spokesperson went on to say that the university disagrees with the out-of-court settlement.

Following the hearing, without reference to the university, our insurer’s solicitors wrote to Ms Wong offering to settle her claim for £15,000 plus payment of her legal costs.

We do not support their decision and have informed them that we consider that they acted negligently and against the university’s interests.

But, although the university still denies her accusations, Ms Wong described the payout as a “proven victory” on Facebook.

Pok Wong’s advice to students making a uni complaint

We asked Ms Wong what advice she’d give to students thinking about complaining to their university. Having been through the process herself, she has some great tips for other students in the same position as her.

One major piece of advice is to make a detailed record of the problems you experience at uni. She said:

Make a record of detailed events when things don’t sound right at the university, including meetings and conversations.

In my case, many lectures were cancelled or lecturers didn’t turn up and so record the detail of such events.

If you have doubts, she also suggested getting insured legally before starting uni in case things go wrong:

Consider taking an insurance policy to cover your legal claim before formally enrolling in the education programme.

And, a final bit of advice:

Speak to student advisors… and do your own research on how to make a formal complaint.

For advice on how to complain and get results, have a look at our guide.

We’ve put together all you need to know about claiming compensation from your university.

Laura Brown

WRITTEN BY Laura Brown

Laura Brown, Head of Editorial at Save the Student, is an award-winning writer with expertise in student money. She project manages influential national student surveys and has presented findings to MPs in Westminster. As an expert on student issues, Laura has been quoted by the BBC, the Guardian, Metro and more.
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