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Warwick student with cancer wins £12,000 payout after university denied extension request

The university accepts that it failed to make adjustments for her illness as a form of disability


The University of Warwick has agreed to pay a student who is ill with cancer £12,000 in damages over “distress and inconvenience”.

This came after the university denied the student an extension for her course as a result of her health condition.

Riham Sheble, a postgraduate student from Egypt, was diagnosed with uterine sarcoma – a rare and aggressive form of cancer – in February 2021.

The international film and televisions studies student’s payout was deemed as a significant victory for overseas students in the UK by the URBC (Unis Resist Border Controls) and Warwick University and College Union who fought for Sheble to extend her study period.

Sheble welcomed the settlement of her case: “University of Warwick’s initial decision denying me an extension of study period was completely unnecessary. 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. More importantly it was utterly unjust”.

She continued: “There came a point when I didn’t think I was going to see my mother before dying. It was a frightening thought”.

A spokesperson for Warwick UCU said: “We are delighted with this outcome and will continue pushing the university to honour their commitments. No university should deprive any student with a disability or a chronic health condition of their education.”

The Warwick Tab also contacted the university for comment. A spokesperson for the University of Warwick said: “A formal investigation was carried out into a complaint made by a student relating to how the University had processed a request for an extension to their period of registration.

“That investigation found that we could have shown greater flexibility in this case. We accepted this conclusion and recognised we had got this wrong – and then worked to put it right.

“A decision to reject a further extension to her period of registration was reversed. And we 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.

“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.

“We’re sorry for the way the student was made to feel through this process, which came during a very difficult and challenging time for her. We have sent a letter to her to offer our sincere apologies.”

Features images via Facebook / Riham Sheble. 

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