University of Glasgow issues apology to dyslexic student
The University of Glasgow has been ordered to pay more than £3,000 to a student who claims her learning needs were ignored.
Chloe Ritchie, from the city’s Southside, notified her tutors she needed extra learning support because of her dyslexia when she signed up for a postgraduate in international law and security coursework.
But the university failed to make reasonable adjustments, now the 26-year-old is concerned she won’t pass her first term with distinction.
Ritchie has received a letter from the University’s Complaints Resolution Office issuing a hand-written apology and a four figure sum.
The response read: “We acknowledge that the university did not provide you with the service you would expect due to the delay with making reasonable adjustments. Your complaint therefore has been upheld.
"As a gesture of goodwill, we will also arrange for a partial tuition fee refund, we will issue you with a payment equal to a third of your tuition fees. This will be in the form of a one-off payment of £3333."
The letter continued: “We are also aware that you feel you could have achieved better grades had reasonable adjustments been put in place earlier.
“While your marks cannot be adjusted, as the university’s regulations are clear that it is not possible, I have discussed this matter with the School of Law, and we can offer you the opportunity to resit your coursework for these classes with your adjustments in place.
“I am very sorry for the upset this experience has caused and do hope the above information has provided assurances of the actions taken to prevent this situation from recurring.”
Richie told Glasgow Times how she asked the university numerous times for help, but her requests were never addressed.
“I’ve been so stressed and anxious because I know that if the right support had been in place, I could have achieved better grades. I’ve been so upset by all of this and I’m speaking out because something needs to change,” she said.
“My hope is that in the future if someone asks for reasonable adjustments, they will have access straight away. If it wasn’t for my lecturer noticing mistakes in my written coursework and escalating my case to the university's disability team, then I really don’t know where I’d be."
Richie went on to say how the lack of support from the university had a toll on her wellbeing.
“Things got so bad that I wanted to quit, and it really pushed me to the limit. I’m glad the university has apologised, but I’m now in a position where I will need to resit some of the coursework while working on a 12,000-word dissertation. It’s a lot of added pressure when I could have already achieved the grades if the right tools were in place,” she explained.
“I just wish it was handled better from the outset. It has been frustrating and mentally draining. I’ve always been able to access learning support for my dyslexia and I still don’t have a definitive answer as to why the process took so long. If someone has a disability and needs guidance, then it should be offered immediately."
Three months into starting the course in September, Richie finally received the help she needed. Since then her grades have improved.
Richie said: “I was receiving Bs in my coursework when I was struggling, now I'm receiving As.
"I want to work in foreign or terrorism policy and it's very competitive. I need a distinction and now I'm worried about how this whole mess will affect my future employment opportunities.
"I’m pleased my complaint was upheld but I feel very strongly that it should never have been allowed to get to the stage it did. I'd like to know why I wasn't offered learning support at the beginning.
“I’ve spent so much time crying and worrying myself sick simply because my request wasn't put in place for 12 weeks. I really thought I was going to fail everything and started to doubt myself.
She added: “The course has cost me a lot of money and I was left feeling completely burnt out by the end of my first term. The whole process has all felt very transactional and there’s been empathy for what I've gone through.
“It’s crucial that tailored educational support is in place from the moment a student starts studying. It’s been a testing few months for me, but I’m glad I stood up for what was right - nobody with a disability of any type should ever feel ignored."
A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow said: “The University of Glasgow is committed to promoting and implementing equality of opportunity in the learning, teaching, research and working environment. We do all we can to support our students to be effective learners and continually seek to improve.
“Our students are able to draw on the expertise of our disability advisers and IT professionals, along with a team of dedicated support workers. We are able to and do make bespoke adjustments to both teaching and assessments with the needs of our students in mind.
“The University’s Disability Service and its distributed network of Disability Coordinators, who are operational in each of our academic areas, provide a dedicated service for students with disabilities and/or impairments, assessing and putting in place appropriate provision to assist with their learning.”
[ Chloe Richie was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of six ]