With the advent of fees for university tuition comes an increasing recognition that teaching institutions owe a duty to provide services to an acceptable standard. Where such a duty is owed a lawsuit might follow if things go badly wrong.

In a recent case a history student has sued the University of Oxford. He was awarded a 2:1 degree but claims he could have done better had one of his courses been adequately resourced. The University has failed in a bid to strike out the claim on the basis that it is bound to fail. The claim is therefore set to proceed to trial.

These sorts of claims are notoriously difficult to pursue not least because universities rely on arguing that it all comes down to the question of ‘academic judgement’. This was a line long accepted by the Courts in rejecting cases where students were alleging that their work had not been properly assessed or the examinations properly marked. One of the interesting aspects of the case is that the Court seems prepared to go beyond this and allow the matter to be fully considered at trial, to establish whether the teaching offered was in fact inadequate, and to consider whether this led to the losses claimed by the student.