A Kirk minister has accused the University of Dundee of “institutional thuggery” over its removal of a blind Nigerian PhD student.
Bamidele Chika Agbakuribe, who came to Scotland in 2016 with his wife and four school-age children, paid tens of thousands of pounds for his course at the university’s school of education and social work.
However, Mr Agbakuribe claims he was denied the ‘state-of-the-art’ IT equipment for disabled students and supervision that was promised to him to enable him to study adequately.
The university then removed him from the course and informed the Home Office, which wants to deport him by 30 June.
Mr Agbakuribe said it had been his intention to return home after completing his course, but he now fears he faces being shamed in his community by returning home without his qualification as well as having to repay the money his sponsor gave him for the course. He also sold his house in Nigeria to help pay his university fees.
Rev Robert Calvert, minister of Steeple Church in Dundee where Mr Agbakuribe is involved with a refugee project, said: “I have no pleasure to watch one of Dundee’s institutions of higher education perpetrate what I can only describe as ‘institutional thuggery’ and ‘gross social injustice’ on someone whom I know to be a person of high integrity. I know him and his family to be studious, gracious and measured characters.
“Therefore, I would ask the University of Dundee to, at least, refund him some of the monies that they received from him. While the university has terminated his student status and the Home Office has ordered the family to leave Scotland by 30 June, I’m aware that there is a widespread outcry by many local people who know of his situation.”
Mr Agbakuribe attends St Andrew’s Church in Dundee.
His supporters include Joe Fitzpatrick, SNP MSP for Dundee City West, former Scottish Government minister Malcolm Chisholm, human rights lawyer and rector of Glasgow University Aamer Anwar, the STUC and Dr Carlo Morelli, president-elect of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) in Scotland.
Mr Agbakuribe said: “Rev Calvert is a man of the cloth and has the qualities of a man who believes in justice.
“I’ve been used and abused by the University of Dundee, which has conducted itself in an insensitive manner.
“Unfortunately, out of insensitivity and wickedness someone has decided to frustrate every step I’ve taken.”
A spokesman for the university said: “Our position remains as it has been since November 2018. Mr Agbakuribe’s studies were terminated, which was an academic decision, and a subsequent complaint made by the student was not upheld.
“The university has an obligation to ensure that academic standards are consistently applied so that the value of a University of Dundee degree is consistently maintained.
“It would be wrong to permit a student to continue on a programme when these standards have not been met.
“The expenditure by the university in providing supervisor time, learning and disability support has been significantly greater than the tuition fees received. That expenditure has already been made in the course of the student’s time here, which means the fees are no longer held by the university.”