Expert Education Law advice courtesy of the dedicated team of nationally respected specialist lawyers at HCB.
The excitement when you make the decision to enrol in higher education should be at the forefront of your mind, but if an issue or dispute arises, that excitement can soon turn to frustration.
Sadly, colleges and universities are becoming increasingly over-subscribed – leading to a many individual situations being overlooked when a problem occurs. Here at HCB, we believe students are more than just a number; every student is an individual who is entitled to the best opportunity to develop their potential.
We are committed to giving students the legal help they need in circumstances that can make or break their future career plans, and we cover issues relating to:
Fitness to Practice
It is the obligation of universities to certify that students are of the required skills, knowledge, and character in order to attend their institutions. Should they become concerned about a student regarding their conduct while at university, an investigation may begin. This can be a very stressful proceeding, which can jeopardise your capacity to qualify in a whole host of professional fields. The aid of an education solicitor can be critical in these circumstances.
If you find yourself in a dispute with your university or college, perhaps due to unfair treatment, or an authoritative decision has been made that is affecting your studies, the first step is to follow your institution’s internal appeals process and/or complaints procedure. This will require you to prepare appeal documentation, and possibly attend a hearing.
A specialist university solicitor should be able to assist you in your preparations for an appeal, and represent you if a hearing is required. You can only benefit from legal help, especially if you wish to avoid an outcome that is not in your favour. A specialist university solicitor will not only be able to represent you in your appeal, but if your appeal should fail they will also be able to take your complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. This will progress to a detailed investigation and a full review of all the supporting documents.
University Breaches of Contract
There is a contractual relationship between you and your institution regarding their duty to provide educational services. If the university or college is found to be in breach of this contract, you could be entitled to damages. This may require civil action to resolve, sometimes including a County Court claim or Judicial Review. Dedicated student legal help will give you a much better chance of success.
Should there be any exceptional or mitigating circumstances that have affected your ability to prepare for or sit an exam or assessment, it is possible to notify your university of such circumstances. Though they must be reported as soon as possible, the internal procedures will be available to do so, whilst you will also have the opportunity to present evidence in support of your appeal.
University Disciplinary Issues
Disciplinary proceedings can significantly affect your studies, and therefore your career prospects should a decision go against you. This can result in exclusions, so it is always best to speak to a specialist lawyer, or legal support. Students can go before an academic misconduct panel or university disciplinary for plagiarism, cheating, criminal convictions, or bringing the establishment into disrepute. In order to ensure the best outcome for yourself, it is vital to employ legal help throughout the process to make sure all procedures and legislation are followed correctly.
Exam and Coursework Plagiarism
Plagiarism is the act of attempting to submit work that has been derived from the work of others, without acknowledgement. It can also be used to describe the act of colluding with other students (except in joint, or group project work) and failing to announce such help has been received. Plagiarism is classed as a breach of academic integrity, as a university’s policy will normally dictate that no student is permitted to make use of unfair means in an examination or assessment.
Wrongly Classed Degrees
If you think you have ended up with an unfair degree classification, or a grade you were not expecting, you have every right to contest it. Your final mark for a degree can seriously affect your ability to follow your desired career prospects, so seeking the advice of a specialist university disputes solicitor could be the difference between a fair or unfair classification. Some of these cases may need to be taken to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, and possibly then the High Court should an adjudicator’s decision be unsatisfactory.
Discrimination against Disabled University Students
It is illegal for an education provider to treat a disabled student in an unfavourable way. Discrimination can be direct, indirect, via victimisation, or through treating a student unfairly due to their disability.
An educational institute has a strict duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled students never suffer from discrimination, and it is compulsory for all higher education establishments to have a Disability Services Department in charge of arranging support for disabled students.
If you believe you have been discriminated against for your disability, in the first instance you can discuss the matter with the university, but if you still find that your issues have not been addressed properly, you can also ask for legal advice from a specialist education solicitor – who will be able to tell you your rights, and aid you in any action that may be required.
How HCB Solicitors can help
Our higher education lawyers are available to deliver a first-class level of assistance to students who need help. If you are facing a higher education dispute, they can offer their extensive experience to get you the outcome you deserve. If you want to find out how to make an appeal, please get in touch with us.