A shocking discovery made by The Gown in recent weeks has unearthed racial inequality on the part of QUB. The Management School, one of the university’s leading bodies, took the seemingly innocuous decision to advertise a bursary for their postgraduate programmes. However, said bursaries were for GB students only, that is, students from England, Scotland and Wales. Thus excluding students from Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland and Europe.
The Gown can confirm that QUB have since retraced their steps, and have made applications for the bursary open to all students. Meanwhile, the controversial GB clause has been amended on new advertisements detailing the bursary, and QUB have done their utmost to remove old fliers from the campus.
However, when The Gown spoke to a Management School representative on 4th February, the original rules of eligibility were still in place. To quote the initial conditions: “Queen’s University Management School is offering 5 MSc Scholarships for Great Britain students enrolling on any full-time postgraduate taught programme within the School for September 2009 entry.” The flier then goes on to say, “All Great Britain applicants who apply for the full-time MSc programmes will automatically be considered.”
The Gown spoke to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland which, after a long discussion, concluded that it did not have sufficient details on the case to comment. Undeterred, The Gown spoke to a leading representative from the School of Law on the legality of the matter. Given the fact that there exists no legitimate aim or reason for stipulating that GB students need only apply, the Management School have left themselves susceptible to claims of discrimination.
Now that the fliers and advertisements have been amended and extended to all home and EU students, eligibility is solely based on academic performance. This does indeed sit more comfortably with QUB’s self portrait as a Russell Group institution. No other school within the university has ever incurred such controversy in relation to rules of eligibility, as all schools rely predominantly on academic performance.
When The Gown quizzed senior employees from the Management School, they were extremely hesitant to speak on the matter. The first person we spoke to simply stated, “I don’t know”. The Marketing and External Relations officer of the school remained extremely evasive on the matter. When pursued for comment, said representative dismissed The Gown’s rights of enquiry. At this conjecture then, The Gown wishes to reiterate that it stands independent from the University, and is simply continuing the newspaper’s responsibility to hold the institution to account.
When asked whether or not the old fliers had been successfully retrieved from universities in GB, The School’s representative said: “I cannot answer that.” When further pressed for an answer to that question, and why indeed such a rule was implicated in the first place, the lady in question told The Gown, “I am not having this conversation with you. The important
thing for you to know is that all students are now eligible.”
The Management School, it seems, does not know whether the old fliers, which include the discriminatory rules, are actually completely out of circulation. They also refused to inform The Gown why these rules were implemented in the first place.
We spoke to a student from Co. Tyrone who was outraged at the prospect of being discriminated against. “I cannot believe that the university would have the audacity to tell me I am not eligible for a bursary when I have performed very well academically. I should have as much chance as anyone else to receive a bursary for a postgraduate course which offers financial help.”
The Gown suspects that this oversight may have been part of
a bid to enhance the university’s status on the Mainland. After all, it has been suggested that QUB were welcomed into the Russell Group for nothing more than geographical balance.
Shane Brogan, VP Equality and Diversity told The Gown, “I was stunned when I heard about the actions of the Management School. It is absolutely disgraceful that they intended to discriminate against students in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It seems unbelievable that they thought that this was within the law.”
Indeed, it remains to be seen how QUB intend to remain an institution of esteem; and how, or if, its individual schools will ever ‘manage’ to live up to such a portrayal.