Grad sues over 'Mickey Mouse' degree

Local | Phoebe Ng 12 Mar 2018

A Hong Kong woman is suing Anglia Ruskin University in Britain for 60,000 (HK$651,143), as the business graduate claimed she ended up with a "Mickey Mouse" degree.

Fiona Wong Pok, 29, took her discontent to court after not getting the "excellent career prospects" the institute had promised.

She accused the school in Cambridge of "reaching" a contract and making "fraudulent misrepresentation" in its prospectus.

The university promised "high quality teaching" and "excellent career prospects," but Wong told The Daily Telegraph it was not the case.

"Some of the lecturers are really lazy," Wong said. "They turn up for the class late. They sometimes send students to library to self-study because they have nothing to teach."

"They [the school] think international students come here for a piece of paper and a degree, but we care about the quality. We care about how much we could learn."

Wong, who graduated with honors in International Business Strategy, lodged her complaints before London County Court.

She said she was misled into moving to Britain to study at the university's Lord Ashcroft International Business School by the prospectus from 2010 to 2011, which promised "quality education and prospect of employment after graduation."

"The prospectus convinced me that the university was really impressive," she said.

"But, as soon as I started in 2011, I realized there were failings. Although I graduated with a First Class degree in 2013, it is a Mickey Mouse degree."

In the court filing, she claimed: "Since graduating it has been proven that the degree does not play a role to help secure a rewarding job with prospects."

The 60,000 she is demanding covers her tuition fees and living costs during the two-year degree course.

However, the university's lawyers rebutted, saying statements made in its prospectus were "not part of any contract."

"The real contract made clear tuition fees would not be refunded," the school countered, saying the real reason Wong could not find a job after graduation could be her decision to "spend time and energy" trying to discredit the university on Facebook and YouTube campaigns.

In its coverage, The Daily Telegraph commented that the case showed how students are "increasingly seeing themselves as customers" who demand value for money after paying thousands of pounds in tuition fees.

Mark Anderson, UK Independence Party vice-chairman, has come out in support of Wong.

"Many, many students have been let down by higher education over-promising, under delivering and misaligning expectations," he said.

A netizen commented: "If she wins, half of all college courses will be similarly litigated against.

"A college degree has had little to no relationship to real-world jobs or a graduate's abilities for quite a long time.

"This will be thrown out of court - not because she's wrong, but because she's right and academia would collapse if the suit was to be successful."

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