CHANGE OF COURSE

A former student is suing Oxford for $1 million for failing to make him rich and successful

A disgruntled graduate of Oxford, the venerated British university, is throwing a lawsuit at his alma mater, alleging that the school’s “boring” and “appallingly bad” teaching prevented him from securing both a first-class degree and a successful career as a lawyer.

How much does Faiz Siddiqui, who studied modern history, believe Oxford owes him? £1 million ($1.3 million).

That’s the amount that Siddiqui—who is 38 and graduated in 2000—says he would have earned by now as a “high-flying commercial barrister,” had the university not crippled that ambition by giving him a second-class degree. In particular, it was one class on Indian imperial history that pulled down his overall grade, thanks to the professor’s negligent teaching and overly harsh grading, Siddiqui and his legal team say.

His lawyer Roger Mallalieu claims there are around a dozen other students who also received unusually low marks in that course, and adds that Siddiqui currently suffers from insomnia and depression as a result of the experience.

The university, for its part, wants the lawsuit thrown out—mostly because of the decade and a half that’s passed since Siddiqui graduated. While some students in the US have seen success in suing their schools, those campuses (including Donald Trump’s legally-tangled real estate university) tended to skew toward the non-elite, for-profit field, and were not established institutions like 1,100-year-old Oxford.

Oxford also insists the graduate’s claims of subpar teaching are baseless; it hasn’t released an official statement on the matter, but perhaps we can look to one of the school’s applicant interview questions: “What exactly do you think is involved in blaming someone?”

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