Oxford College, St Hugh’s, being sued for ‘discriminating against the poor’


The Radcliffe Camera at Oxford University

The Huffington Post UK

An Oxford college is being sued for allegedly discriminating against poor students after it rejected applications from postgraduates who couldn’t prove they had £21,082 for tuition and living costs.

Damien Shannon, 26, is taking St Hugh’s college to court claiming the policy amounts to “selecting by wealth” and bars all but the wealthiest of students.

Shannon had successfully applied to take an MSc in economic and social history but was told his place was conditional on meeting Oxford’s financial requirements.

According to the Guardian, Shannon’s submitted legal papers state: “It is my contention that the effect of the financial conditions of entry is to select students on the basis of wealth, and to exclude those not in possession of it.

“In particular, the requirement for evidence of funds for living costs has a discriminatory effect.”

Shannon was only able to raise £10,000 through a loan but could not secure the remaining £11,000.

Former Labour cabinet minister and Salford MP, Hazel Blears, has taken up the case with a parliamentary debate on postgraduate costs being heard on Wednesday, reports the Telegraph.

She said: “Oxford University’s demands for a guarantee on living costs are deeply unfair.

“They will price gifted students out of doing these courses and our country will lose out on some really talented individuals.”

The case will be heard next month.

A St Hugh’s college spokesman said: “The requirement that postgraduate students provide a financial guarantee in order to take up their course place at the University of Oxford is made clear to potential applicants.

“The university and college have both made fundraising for postgraduate scholarships a key priority.”