A recent student has publicly accused the University of racially discriminating against her while she was studying.
Sanaz Raji was forced to leave the University after her scholarship was withdrawn.
Raji, who was studying for a PhD at the Institute of Communications (ICS), has launched a petition demanding that the University stops treating international students “like 2nd class citizens.”
Ms Raji claims she was racially discriminated against at a supervision meeting, and that she has been “bullied” by her Postgraduate Research Tutor.
The former student also accuses Leeds of withdrawing her research scholarship without following the correct processes.
Raji appealed the decision but describes the system that rejected her appeal as a “kangaroo court”.
In the petition, Sanaz states: “the message the […] University sends to international students is that their education, their wellbeing, even their health is of lesser importance than that of home students.”
At the time of going to print, the petition had received 171 signatures. One signatory wrote: “I am working for the Equality Service at the University of Leeds and have seen a lot of indirect discrimination against international students mainly from their British counterparts”.
Sanaz Raji told Leeds Student: “the University is in danger of becoming an institution that values international students for the revenue stream rather than as human beings.”
When challenged on these accusations by this paper, the Vice Chancellor Michael Arthur said:
“I would refute the criticism, absolutely. You’ve only got to look at our overall performance and the opinions of the International students as they leave the University. There’s quite a mismatch between the individual student story and the broader picture.”
A University spokesperson added: “The University is strongly committed to equality and fairness and rightly provides an opportunity for students to appeal against academic decisions. Such appeals require a great deal of time, and all those involved strive to be fair. We are confident that in this case all University procedures were followed scrupulously.”
Speaking to this paper, the Union’s Education Officer Josh Smith said:
“I encourage any students encountering difficulties to seek help from the Student Advice Centre who can provide support and guidance. Students who exhaust the University’s internal procedures of complaint or appeal also have recourse to the Ombudsman for Higher Education. I would urge any student who has concerns about their studies to seek help at the earliest opportunity.”
Words: Lucy Snow