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Disability Discrimination Complaint Against College

Disability Discrimination Complaint Against College

Who did we act for?

IBB Law acted on behalf of Asha, a student at a Yorkshire College.

What was the case about?

Asha applied to study for a PGCE Chemistry with Qualified Teacher Status. At the time of applying for the course at the college, she made the latter aware of a long standing illness and thus required adjustments to be made, to enable her to perform at her full potential, requiring extra time and rest breaks.

Asha made progress in her first placement but as she did not perform to expectations an action plan was put in place, to be acted upon in her second placement. Unfortunately, Asha did not submit any lesson plans in her second placement and did not provide mitigating circumstances to explain why she had not done so. As a consequence, she was withdrawn from the placement. Asha was advised of this and what she should expect, in terms of the suspension of her monthly bursary.

Asha complained about her withdrawal from the course and being dissatisfied with the response from the college, she made a stage 1 complaint about her bursary payments being stopped. She was unsuccessful, but escalated her complaint to the next level, asking for her bursary to be paid and for her tuition fee to be refunded. Unfortunately, the stage 2 complaint also failed, the investigator of the complaint concluding that Asha’s disability had not been ignored.

Unperturbed, Asha took the complaint further, making clear she had told the college about her disability, both in her application and subsequent communications, whether at one-to-one sessions with tutors, text messages, emails, or with her disability coordinator. She asserted the college should have done more to meet its statutory obligations and duty of care to her as a student, in responding to her disability. Her complaint was considered by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).

Asha was, finally, successful, as it was decided that the college’s decision was unreasonable. The college could have done more to have understood Asha’s needs and to put in place the appropriate support, to address her long term health condition and disability.

She received a written apology from the college and an offer of a compensation payment to reflect their failure for the lack of information available at the time of admission, regarding the impact of any placement failure and or withdrawal from the course, would have impacted upon her entitlement to the bursary. She also received an offer of compensation in respect of the course fee.

What did IBB do to help? 

Asha was dissatisfied with the offer received from the college and thus we made submissions, on her behalf, for a higher level of compensation to reflect the consequences of the failures by the college, particularly in respect of disability discrimination. We made forceful submissions that the college had discriminated against Asha in a number of respects, in that the college was bound to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate her needs. It was asserted that the breaches, over a period of time, were systemic, representing a widespread failure in the legal duties of the College towards disabled people.

What was the outcome of the complaint against the college?

As a consequence of the representations we made on behalf Asha, in respect of disability discrimination, we were able to secure a settlement for her, which was nearly 4 times more than was initially offered by the college and by the solicitors acting on behalf the College.

Asha was pleased and relieved with the outcome of the complaint against the college. She thanked us for all our help, guidance and support, from the beginning of the case to the conclusion. She described it as a good settlement, being significantly higher than was recommended by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).

She also told us that she was impressed with how we had acted upon her instructions with haste. Our opinions and advice were described as being very helpful, enabling her to make informed decisions.

We were delighted to have helped Asha achieve such a good outcome to her complaint against the college.