STUDENTS
08/06/2015 15:21 BST | Updated 08/06/2015 15:59 BST

Oxford University Student With Mental Health Issues Claims She Was Pressured Into Leaving

A student with disabilities and mental health issues has claimed Oxford University pressured her into leaving, after it failed to provide her with any support during exams.

Sophie Spector has referred to Balliol College's handling of her disabilities and mental health issues as "callous", the Daily Telegraph reported.

Spector, who suffers from ADHD, OCD and dyslexia, requested extended deadlines to account for her slow reading speed.

Instead, she claims, the college set her additional exams with pass marks higher than those of her peers - despite the fact "college staff knew I was having OCD symptoms and suffering from anxiety and depression". Spector went on medical leave the following month, in March 2013.

sophie spector

Spector says Oxford forced her out of university

A subject access request from Spector revealed correspondence from Douglas Dupree, the-then college chaplain and dean. After reviewing Spector's requests in February 2013, Dupree asked "Why did we admit her?" and suggested she be seen by a doctor who equipped to handle "histrionics and panic". As a result of such "callous" treatment, Spector declined to return to her studies at the college.

Managing partner of Unity Law and specialist in equalities Chris Fay described the incident as "a straight forward case of discrimination, treating someone less favourably because of their disability", and that Dupree's comments were tantamount to "harassment" on the grounds of disability.

Balliol College claimed to be investigating a formal complaint, and though they could not comment on individual cases, they were committed to upholding the "thorough and caring approach which is not fairly represented by selectively quoting from email correspondence.”

Unity Law was requested to send a letter of claim to the University of Oxford on the grounds of a challenge for disability discrimination, for failure to make reasonable adjustments on grounds of disability, and for breach of the Equalities Act.

Spector has since founded a social media company and begun applications for law school.

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Samaritans, open 24 hours a day, on 08457 90 90 90
  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Young Minds offers information to young people about mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pmand 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41
  • HeadMeds - a straight-talking website on mental health medication