Issue 4 - October 2000
A MATHS student who was stripped of a first-class degree amid allegations he cheated may soon see an end to the appeals system he feels failed him.
Francis Foecke began a 14-year dispute with Bristol University after he got first-class results in all 13 papers in his final exams.
A committee set up by the university's board of examiners ruled, after a hearing which lasted two days, that he had cheated in parts of answers to three of the statistics questions.
There were alleged similarities between some of his solutions and model answers prepared by the examiners, and his qualification was downgraded to an ordinary degree.
Foecke's only hope was the traditional system which states appeals must be made to the University's Visitor - in this case none less than the Queen.
Acting through the Privy Council, Her Majesty sent a brief letter which upheld the university's decision.
Foecke said: "The Visitor is an establishment body and looks after its own side."
His application to the European Court of Human Rights was rejected and Foecke now says he has no further legal options to clear his name.
Others have joined the criticisms levelled at the Visitor appeal sysrtem and claim that it involves scandalous delays.
David Blunkett, the education secretary, has been warned that when the European Convention on Human Rights is incorporated into English law in October it will clash with the system.
Baroness Blackstone, the education minister, has indicated she would like to see an ombudsman as part of a reforms, and has asked the higher education sector to come up with proposals by the end of the year.
The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals is currently discuss the issue and appears to favour the idea of an ombudsman - something the NUS has been pressing for for some time.
For the record, the panel of Visitors includes the Queen, acting through the Privy Council of the Lord Chancellor, the Queen Mother, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Kent, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and several senior churchmen, landowners, ex-politicians, and even Lady Archer.
Source: The Guardian
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