An Oxford University history graduate of Indian descent is drawing online scorn following reports that he was suing his alma mater for “boring” classes 16 years ago that he said cost him a career as a hotshot lawyer.
Faiz Siddiqui, 38, is seeking over £1 million (HK$9.9 million) in lost earning claims from the elite British university in the suit filed in the country’s High Court, the Sunday Times said in a report.
Substandard teaching in a course on Indian imperial history pulled his final undergraduate grade down to a “2:1” rather than first class honours and “denied him the chance of becoming a high-flying commercial barrister”, his lawyer was quoted as saying in the report. Siddiqui pursued a postgraduate legal education after his graduation from Oxford in 2000, the report said.
His lawyer is quoted as telling the court his client suffered from insomnia and depression due to his less-than-stellar grades as an undergraduate. The Brasenose College alumnus is claiming among other things that the standard of teaching was impaired by a large number of faculty members who had gone on sabbatical during the 1999-2000 academic year.
The university in turn is seeking to strike the lawsuit out as baseless because of the long period that has passed since Siddiqui graduated.
His lawyer Roger Mallalieu declined comment when contacted by This Week in Asia.
Internet users, meanwhile, heaped scorn on Siddiqui’s extraordinary legal bid. “What a load of tripe! He waits 16 years and then decides his life is a failure because he got a 2:1 which is an excellent grade by any standards,” wrote one Mika on the Daily Mail website.
Others said top international lawyers did not necessarily have first class honours degrees. Ar least one commenter backed Siddiqui, writing online that Oxford “deserves this [because[ they have sold degrees and turned students into consumers that believe they are buying their degree”.
One recent Oxford history graduate contacted by This Week in Asia saw the humorous side of the lawsuit, hailing his fellow Oxonian as a champion of alumni affected by “epidemic” snoozefests.
“Sleeping during lectures was an epidemic but no one dared to talk about it,” said 28-year-old Ashish Ravinran, a New York-based filmmaker who graduated in 2012.
“If enough victims come forward, who knows, there could even be a class action lawsuit,” Ravinran, a Singaporean, said. “We need to thank Mr Siddiqui for finally breaking the silence and giving the university a much-needed wake-up call!”
Siddiqui’s lawsuit comes amid growing discontent among students over slipping teaching standards in some British universities. Still, Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, is widely seen as the most prestigious place to obtain an undergraduate education. It topped the Times Higher Education global league table of universities this year.
Brasenose College – of which Siddiqui is an alumnus – is also the alma mater of former British Prime Minister David Cameron and the late British novelist and playwright Sir William Golding, who authored Lord of the Flies.