A blind international student kicked out of Dundee University amid claims he was subjected to “shocking mistreatment” and discrimination has had his appeal rejected by education bosses.
Bamidele Chika Agbakuribe, who lives in the city with his wife and four school-age children, has been told he must leave the UK after being dropped from his PhD studies in the wake of a row over a reported lack of resources, facilities and support.
The Courier reported last month how a public petition, which has been signed nearly 2,500 times, accused the University of “disability and racial discrimination” after it terminated Mr Mr Agbakuribe’s studies following slow academic progress.
Robina Qureshi, director of homelessness and human rights charity Positive Action in Housing, attempted this week to launch an appeal against the decision on Mr Agbakuribe’s behalf on the grounds of “procedural irregularities” by the University.
However, bosses insisted they “cannot grant an appeal at this stage” because six months have passed since Mr Agbakuribe’s studies were terminated.
Ms Qureshi said: “It is very clear to us that there has been shocking mistreatment of a blind man who has been tripped up every step of the way in Scotland with far reaching negative consequences for him and his family.
“Bamidele was isolated, given very little supervision and left hanging about waiting for basic screen-reading software.
“He has a wife and four children and he came here to make his life better. He has been let down badly. It is unbelievable that a leading university could take all that money from a man from a developing country and then fail him like this.”
Positive Action in Housing claims to have emails sent between Mr Agbakuribe and the university which the charity said proves his “polite and sustained” requests for support were repeatedly ignored or disregarded.
It has threatened to release the documents publicly unless education bosses either reinstate Mr Agbakuribe or agree to reimburse him for thousands of pounds spent on tuition fees.
A spokesperson for the university said: “An appeal against a student having their studies discontinued needs to be lodged within four weeks of the date and in this case six months have passed.
“The university did ask Mr Agbakuribe in September 2018 if he wanted to make an appeal and his response was that he was filing a complaint.
“This complaint was then handled under the university’s complaints handling procedure and an outcome letter was provided. Although it is not relevant for the purposes of this decision, the complaint was not upheld.
“We understand that this decision will be a disappointment to Mr Agbakuribe. However, the university takes its responsibilities seriously in relation to academic standards and quality, and to our disabled community.”
The spokesperson added that the decision to terminate studies “was made solely on the basis of a lack of academic progress against a background of extensive and dedicated support”.
An emergency motion agreed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) last week backed Mr Agbakuribe’s right to stay in Scotland and called on University bosses to to reach an agreed settlement with the Nigerian national.