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PhD disputes - getting support as a student

As higher education specialists, we have helped many PhD students deal with a variety of issues that they face on the many years that they spend on their PhD. Whether this is issues with supervision, with intellectual property rights or disputes over academic misconduct, our specialist education solicitors are available to help with any problem you may face. They are available to provide expert, specialised education law advice.

As an example, we recently became involved in a dispute on behalf of our client, Mr X. Mr X had been studying and working at the University for years and by all accounts was on track to publish a first class thesis. He had presented at seminars and workshops, had already published work for the University, and his feedback was glowing from both of his supervisors.

However, Mr X had been misled. When external examiners reviewed his thesis, they raised concerns regarding the originality of the work and the quality of the writing. They also raised concerns informally regarding academic misconduct (which we later proved were completely unfounded). As a result of this, Mr X faced a much more difficult Viva than he was expecting. He was subjected to intense questioning which the supervisors had failed to prepare him for, and the questions that were being asked were radically different than what he was told to expect.

Following this, Mr X failed his Viva. He was told that he was going to have resit, pay further fees and put further work in to correct the issues that the external examiner had highlighted. However, when he finally got the reports back, the external examiner report conflicted with what he had been told to fix by the University. He had no way of knowing which one to follow to make sure he got the thesis that he had been working towards.

This is when he contacted us. Once Mr X explained his issue, one of our higher education solicitors stepped in and entered into communications with the University on his behalf. They were able to immediately have a fee-freeze put in place, so that the University would not charge Mr X until the situation had resolved itself. A retroactive fee waiver was also later obtained, meaning that Mr X did not have to pay any fees for the period following the Viva as well.

After this, our education law team addressed the concerns with supervision. We worked with our client and the University, highlighting the issues faced and negotiated to find a satisfactory solution for our client. After instructing education solicitors, our client was able to return to his studies with confidence and proper support. 

Our higher education solicitors are available to help throughout the entire process, from initial reviews and drafting a letter of complaint to the University, to representing and liaising on your behalf. Our University law specialists deliver a first-class level of assistance and advice to students who need help. If you are making a complaint to your University or College, our education law specialists can offer their extensive experience to get you the outcome you deserve.

If you would like to discuss your matter further, please feel free to contact our education law team on 0333 202 7175,

One of our education lawyers will be happy to discuss your issue further in a free consultation.