Furious uni student told to retake entire year after missing one exam while isolating

By Steve Robson & Alahna Kindred

A medical student who missed one exam because he was isolating has been told he has to retake the entire year.

Wenbin Guo, 22, was due to sit his Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) to complete Year 3 of his studies on July 7.

The University of Manchester student was contacted by NHS Test and Trace a week prior saying he needed to isolate because his housemate tested positive for Covid-19.

He informed the university immediately, but after an "extensive discussion", staff declined to find another time for him to take the exam, Manchester Evening News reports.

Wenbin is the only student in his year group who will have to repeat the year.

Prof Felicity Stewart, Head of Undergraduate Medical Studies, argued Wenbin's learning in Year 4 would be harmed by him trying to also study for a resit, according to emails shared with MEN.

She also ruled out Wenbin from taking the exam before the start of Year 4 because he would be the only one at the resit, generating concern it wouldn't be a "fair and valid" assessment.

Prof Stewart wrote: "Trying to rush this (by the start of year 4) in order to allow you to take this assessment would risk introducing errors and would affect our ability to follow key quality assurance steps required by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Prof Felicity Stewart, Head of Undergraduate Medical Studies, said Wenbin would be the only one at the resit, generating concern it wouldn't be a 'fair and valid' assessment (MEN Media)

Wenbin, originally from Sheffield, has appealed the decision and has been left "angry and disappointed".

He said: "I followed the rules at the time, both legal and medical procedure, only to be held in contempt.

"The school was quick to assure me initially that my case was ‘unprecedented’, and made it clear I was the only student in this situation, only to change their tune later and essentially punish me for something I had no control over.

"When pressed on the issue, they claimed that I had been treated fairly in line with 'equivalent' circumstances even though none existed.

"They’ve taken away any semblance of a safety net in terms of financing my degree - via the Student Finance ‘gift Year’ - and have robbed me of the choice to intercalate which could impact my future career progression.

"I've done nothing wrong and am justifiably angry that I've had such horrible consequences imposed upon me by an institution that I had trusted would be supportive."

Universities, including Manchester, have faced criticism from students for a perceived lack of support throughout the pandemic.

Last year there were calls for Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell to resign over a series of controversies at the uni including a decision to erect metal fencing around the Fallowfield halls of residence.

This year, thousands of students have complained about the decision to continue with a 'blended learning' approach while universities continue to charge full tuition fees.

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A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The welfare of our students is always of the utmost importance to us.

"We are in active dialogue and correspondence with the student in question and continue to offer them our full support.

"However, they still have a further right of appeal within the University so we will not be commenting on this case any further at present."

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