Fiona Pok claims she got a ‘mickey mouse’ degree. Picture: Facebook/Fiona Pok
Fiona Pok claims she got a ‘mickey mouse’ degree. Picture: Facebook/Fiona Pok

Student scores $111k over useless degree

WHEN Fiona Pok first enrolled in her business degree, she was convinced it would lead to a glittering future career.

But after graduating in 2013, her hopes were dashed and she soon lashed out at her university and the "mickey mouse" degree she says she was left with.

Then, last year, she revealed plans to sue the UK's Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) over a breach of contract, arguing the course failed to deliver the chance of "a rewarding job with prospects".

Now the 30-year-old has finally triumphed after being awarded a £61,000 ($A111,192) payout.

The sum was agreed upon in an out-of-court deal, with the campus handing over a £15,000 ($A27,342) settlement as well as £46,000 ($A83,850) to cover her legal fees.

Ms Pok, who also goes by the name Pok Wong, told the UK's Sunday Telegraph the result was a win for her and other disgruntled students.

Fiona Pok claims she was left with a ‘mickey mouse’ degree. Picture: Facebook/Fiona Pok
Fiona Pok claims she was left with a ‘mickey mouse’ degree. Picture: Facebook/Fiona Pok

"The payout means this is a victory for me despite the university strenuously fighting my case and denying any responsibility," she said.

"In light of this settlement, I think universities should be careful about what they say in prospectuses.

"I think they often make promises which they know will never materialise or are simply not true."

But an ARU spokesman told the paper the settlement did not mean Ms Wong's claims were correct.

"Ms Wong's longstanding litigation … has been settled at the instruction of our insurers to draw a line under these matters and to prevent a further escalation of their legal costs," he said.

"The claims were wholly without merit and resulted in cost orders made against Ms Wong by the Central London County Court on two occasions."

THE CASE

The beginnings of the landmark case started back in 2011 when Ms Wong, originally from Hong Kong, moved to the UK to study at ARU's Lord Ashcroft International Business School in Cambridge after being impressed by the institution's prospectus.

She graduated with a first-class degree in international business strategy in 2013 but was convinced the organisation's claims it was a "renowned centre of excellence" that offered a "high quality of teaching" were false.

Last year, she told the UK's The Sunday Telegraph her two years of study left her with little more than a "mickey mouse" degree, and she was entitled to compensation as a result.

"The prospectus convinced me that the university is really impressive," she told the publication at the time.

"But, as soon as I started in 2011, I realised there were failings. Although I graduated with a first-class degree in 2013, it is a mickey mouse degree.

"I hope that bringing this case will set a precedent so that students can get value for money, and if they don't, they get compensated. Anglia Ruskin talked a good talk but then they didn't deliver."

ARU has several campuses in England. Picture: Facebook
ARU has several campuses in England. Picture: Facebook

Ms Wong complained of lecturers arriving late to classes and claimed students were regularly instructed to "self study" with little guidance.

She also alleged she was once "locked" in a room by staff members when she tried to protest against the university at her graduation ceremony.

A picture on Ms Wong's public Facebook profile from October 2013 shows the woman in her graduation cap and gown holding a large multi-coloured sign that says "ARU sucks".

In the caption accompanying the photo, Ms Wong described being "forcibly removed from the stage" during the ceremony.

When the case first made headlines last year, legal experts claimed it could potentially set a precedent for other unsatisfied students to pursue similar legal battles.

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au



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