University of Leeds statement: Sanaz Raji

1. Sanaz Raji commenced provisional full-time PhD study in the University’s Institute of Communications Studies - now the School of Media and Communication - in September 2009. The candidature was supported by the award of an ICS Research Scholarship (Fees & Maintenance), which was renewable on an annual basis subject to satisfactory academic progress. Ms Raji was upgraded to full PhD status in September 2010 and the Scholarship was renewed for a second year.

2. At formal progress meetings held in January and July 2011, Ms Raji’s supervisors expressed serious misgivings about the poor academic progress she had made during her second year. In August 2011, Ms Raji was informed that in the light of the continued concerns about her academic progress, the Institute would not be renewing her scholarship for the 2011-12 academic year.

3. It was open to Ms Raji to continue the candidature at her own expense – the Institute had not ruled out the possibility of her rescuing her candidature but it was no longer prepared to underwrite it financially. Ms Raji chose not to register for 2011-12 and has not technically therefore been a student at the University since the late summer of 2011.

4. Ms Raji submitted an appeal against the decision to rescind her scholarship, which was considered by a panel of academics independent of the Institute. Her appeal was rejected by the panel and later by the Dean for Postgraduate Studies, who acted for the Vice-Chancellor at the final stage of the University’s internal appeals procedure.

5. Ms Raji next petitioned the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), which acts as an independent ombudsman for the sector. The OIA dismissed the complaint. Ms Raji’s later attempts to seek judicial review of the OIA’s decision were dismissed by the courts.

6. Ms Raji has more recently argued that her scholarship was revoked because of her race and/or ethnicity. That is simply not true: it was withdrawn because of her poor academic progress. Other statements made publically by Ms Raji about this matter are writhen with inaccuracies and falsehood. The Institute has an excellent record of working with international students and colleagues; and hundreds of BME students have successfully graduated from its programmes. Many indeed have received expert advice and support from those very staff that supervised Ms Raji. The University is naturally disappointed that Ms Raji has chosen to continue a campaign of misinformation and revisionism and to sully unfairly the reputations of its academics, both past and present.

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