You may have seen a story about a woman suing the Anglia Ruskin University for providing what she calls a ‘Mickey Mouse Degree’ and wonder what it’s all about. Well, the story is about Pok Wong, a student who says that claims made by the university about a “quality education and prospect of employment after graduation” were fraudulent.
Pok Wong, who graduated with her first-class degree in International Business Strategy Management in 2013 is claiming £60,000 for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. She has told journalists that she was ‘impressed’ by the Ruskin University’s prospectus and marketing which boasted of being a ‘renowned centre of excellence’, ensuring students would be ‘well equipped’ for jobs in business and consultancy work.
List of complaints
Her complaints include a lecturer turning up late and students being told to “self-study”. Miss Wong also claims that its prospectus misrepresented the university as a “renowned centre of excellence” when university guides in 2010 ranked the centre as low compared to other universities. She also alleges she was locked in a room for trying to speak out about the quality of her course during her graduation ceremony, which she has branded as false imprisonment.
Saying she was initially impressed by the universtity’s prospectus, she told journalists that “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.”
Furthermore, she claims that “since graduating, it has been proven that the degree does not play a role to help secure a rewarding job with prospects”, despite the prospectus promising the course would leave graduates “well equipped” for jobs in the business world, following two years of “high quality teaching”.
“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” said Ms Wong.
Is the case valid?
To take the final comment above first, Ms Wong walked away with a first class degree, so if the responsibility of the university was to teach students to a level which enabled them to obtain a dgree, Anglia Ruskin ‘delivered’ as promised.
Degrees cost money and nobody likes wasting their money, but the teaching was plainly of sufficiently high quality to ensure she graduated with a first class degree, regardless of her indignation at teachers arriving late or being told to self-study. As anybody who has been to university will tell Ms Wong, self-study is and always has been a requirement. Staff lateness will have been dealt with through internal disciplinary procedures and we have no knowledge of these so cannot comment.
Ms Wong, whose 2-year degree started in 2011, states that because university guides in 2010 ranked it as low compared to other universities, Anglia Ruskin’s prospectus therefore misrepresented the university by describing it as a “renowned centre of excellence”. What isn’t clear is why Ms Wong signed up for a degree in 2011 with a university that ranked badly in 2010 compared to others, or whether she failed to do any research into finding a degree course and university that met her needs.
Ms Wong says she realised as soon as she started that the course wasn’t up to her expectations, but hasn’t said why she didn’t change course or universities, as many students do, especially at the beginning of their degree studies.
Jobs not guaranteed
Nobody is guaranteed a job just because they went to university and got a degree. No honours, first or second class degree guarantees a graduate a job, no matter what grade, subject or university, so Ms Wong’s complaint that her degree didn’t help her get a job is empty.
Ultimately, a degree certificate is just a piece of paper. In an interview, it is your level of preparation, presentation, personality and suitability for the job you are applying for compared to your competition that will dictate if you are offered a job or not. There are thousands of graduates out there who have excellent degrees in relevant subjects taken at top-notch universities who cannot find a job at all, let alone one of their liking. It’s sad, but it’s life. Ms Wong is not alone, nor a special case deserving of compensation.
Perhaps Ms Wong’s problem is not her degree? Papers submitted by the university suggest that she may have failed to get a job partly because of her decision to “spend time and energy” waging a campaign against it on YouTube and Facebook. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that prospective employers will not be rushing to take on someone who describes her own degree as being Mickey Mouse and who looks like she might be a lot more trouble than she’s worth. There are just too many other candidates out there.
Ms Wong’s case deserves to be dismissed as meritless. If an out of touch judge decides that yes, a degree should guarantee us all the rewarding job of our choice, the next thing we’ll be reading about is parents suing infant schools for million-pound compensation claims because Johnny didn’t get to be the international football player or business leader like the alumni featured in photos in the school brochures. This is self-obsessed self-entitlement at its worst, and deserves to fail miserably.