Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Anglia Ruskin University sued for awarding Mickey Mouse degrees


Pok Wong, or Fiona Pok Wong, a graduate of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge, wants 60,000 pounds for a breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation and false imprisonment after a protest at the graduation ceremony.

ARU has appeared in this blog before following its spectacular performance in the research impact indicator in the THE world rankings. It has had the common sense to keep quiet about this rather quirky result.

Ms Wong has claimed that her degree in International Business Strategy was just a "Mickey Mouse" degree and that the teaching was of poor quality with one lecturer coming late and leaving early and sometimes even telling the students to self study in the library. She is reported to claim that "since graduating ... it has been proven that the degree ... does not play a role to help secure a rewarding job with good prospects."

It seems that in 2013 she had a job as a Financial Planner with AIA International so her degree from ARU did not leave her totally unemployable. Between 2013 and 2016 she studied for Graduate Diplomas in Law and Paralegal Legal Practice at BPP University College of Professional Studies, which does not appear in the national UK rankings but is ranked 5,499th in the world by Webometrics.

I doubt that the suit will succeed. It is of course regrettable if ARU has been lax about its teaching quality but whether that has much to do with Ms Wong not getting the job she thinks she deserves is debatable. ARU is not among the elite universities of England and its score for graduate employment is particularly bad. It is not a selective university so the question arises why Ms Wong did not apply to a better university with a better reputation.

The university would be justified if it pointed out that publishing photos proclaiming "ARU sucks" may not be the best way of selling yourself to potential employers.

If she does succeed it would be a disastrous precedent for British universities who would be vulnerable to every graduate who failed to get suitable employment or any employment at all.

But the affair should be a warning to all universities to be careful about the claims they make in advertising their products. Prospective students should also take a critical look at the data in all the indicators in all the rankings before banking in their tuition fees.

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