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Statement on OIA report into student suspensions

The University of Sussex is to offer a written apology and financial compensation to four students controversially suspended in 2013 for their part in anti-privatisation protests on campus.

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), an independent body which handles student complaints, has investigated the incident and recommended the university apologises and pays compensation. The OIA report also says the university's student disciplinary activities must be clearer.

The report from the OIA shows huge failings from the University administration, overseen by the Vice Chancellor, and we welcome the outcomes it has recommended.

The University, under Michael Farthing’s leadership, has squandered £50,000 of University funds on legal fees on these cases.  In doing so, the University were found not to be justified in unfairly suspending five students for participating in peaceful protest, and subsequently took steps to change the process, leading ‘to ‘the reasonable suspicion that the decision had been reached in order to prevent the students involved from being legally represented.’

We are concerned that the OIA also found the University were guilty of ‘poor communication’ and that they ‘failed to respond to reasonable queries’, causing ‘further distress.’

In December 2013, students voted to renew the Union's policy to have no confidence in the Vice Chancellor, Michael Farthing, and his executive group, VCEG.

You can read more about the OIA report and background to the case in this Guardian article.

 

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