In 2012, AW enrolled at St George's University of London (SGUL) to study medicine.
Three years later, AW failed her end of year exams at first attempt and at resit. AW began to retake the year but, after being diagnosed with cancer, she applied for an interruption to studies in order to receive specialist treatment in France.
The interruption request was approved but disagreements ensued between AW and SGUL regarding the sharing of AW's medical information, the conditions for her return to study and the requirement to attend Occupational Health (OH) assessments. AW submitted a number of complaints and eventually issued a County Court claim alleging disability discrimination and breach of the Human Rights Act.
When called upon to determine the basis on which AW could return to SGUL, a Registration Extension Panel required her to better engage with both staff and the programme. Following AW's unsuccessful appeal of this decision, she was sent a Completion of Procedures (COP) letter.
SGUL defended the County Court claim and arrangements were made for AW to return, including a further OH assessment. AW disputed the return to study provisions on the basis that her current interruption of study arrangements did not include any agreed reasonable adjustments. AW also continued to refuse to consent to the disclosure of her OH reports. SGUL warned AW that maintaining this approach would preclude her from returning to her studies within the extended maximum registration period.
In April 2019, SGUL terminated AW's registration due to her failure to complete the re-enrolment process (disputed by AW). As a result, AW was prevented from finishing a placement that formed a compulsory part of the course before her maximum registration period expired.
AW was originally informed that she could make a complaint against the termination decision. However, she was later told that making a complaint under SGUL's complaints procedure could not achieve her desired outcome and would therefore be futile. AW's complaint was not accepted and she was not issued with a COP letter.
The termination decision prevented AW from pursuing undergraduate medical studies at another British medical school. As a result, she sought judicial review of SGUL's:
The Judge found SGUL's termination of AW's studies was unlawful and that AW should have been permitted to submit an internal complaint. The termination decision was quashed but the Judge refrained from stating that a COP letter must be issued. AW is now able to resume her studies at SGUL or at another medical school.
The judgment provides a number of general and specific points regarding what students are entitled to expect from their higher education institution (HEI):