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Damages for Warwick student denied extension due to cancer

A university has agreed to pay £12,000 in damages to a student with advanced cancer, after it initially rejected an extension to her studies, a union says.

International postgraduate film and television studies student, Riham Sheble, was receiving treatment for a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

She said the University of Warwick’s decision not to grant her more time to study was “utterly unjust”.

The university said it had got it wrong and worked to put it right.

The decision was reversed and the university wrote to Ms Sheble to offer its “sincere apologies”.

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The settlement was said to be in recognition of the distress caused by not allowing her to extend her course as a result of her health condition.

‘Utterly unjust’
Ms Sheble, who is Egyptian, was diagnosed in February 2021 and asked for an extension to her studies in April 2022.

She said: “These battles were imposed on me at a time when I was contending with death and at war with my own body.

“I was forced to fight on so many fronts. It was exhausting.

“A campaign was started in June last year between URBC, Warwick University and College Union and Warwick students’ union officers, who had collectively made representations on Ms Sheble’s behalf.

‘Got this wrong’
An investigation was carried out into a complaint “made by a student relating to how the university had processed a request” to extend their period of registration, a spokesperson at Warwick said.

They added: “That investigation found that we could have shown greater flexibility in this case. We accepted this conclusion and recognised we had got this wrong.”

The spokesperson added it wrote to the Home Office on the student’s behalf “asking for her mother to be allowed to come into the UK to support her, which was successful”.

They said: “We also felt it was the right thing to do to make a payment to the student rather than contest it through a potentially lengthy complaints process, given the unique circumstances involved in this case.”

Warwick UCU and the Unis Resist Border Controls (URBC) campaign both said Ms Sheble had “won a significant victory for migrant students with disabilities in the UK”. BBC News