A student who was rejected a course extension while undergoing life-saving cancer treatment has been awarded a £12,000 payment.
Warwick University has agreed to compensate Riham Sheble for the “distress and inconvenience” caused by dismissing his extension request.
Ms Shebale, an Egyptian postgraduate cinema and media studies student, was diagnosed with uterine sarcoma in February 2021, a rare and dangerous form of cancer. The request’s denial was “totally superfluous” and “utterly unjust,” she said.
Those who fought her case welcomed the settlement as a victory for international students with disabilities in the United Kingdom.
Alongside @WarwickSU officers and @UnisNotBorders, Warwick UCU has been involved in a long campaign in support of Riham Sheble. Riham has won a significant victory for migrant students with disabilities in the UK. #LetRihamStay https://t.co/oraPPdQh53
— Warwick UCU (@WarwickUCU) February 24, 2023
The university admitted that its treatment of her request for an extension of studies, submitted in April 2022, did not provide appropriate reasonable accommodations for her cancer as a form of handicap. The institution decided to pay damages after a seven-month struggle.
Ms Sheble said: “University of Warwick’s initial decision denying me an extension of study period was completely unnecessary,” she said. “These battles were imposed on me at a time when I was contending with death and at war with my own body. I was forced to fight on so many fronts. It was exhausting. More importantly, it was utterly unjust.”
Coupled with her disagreement with the institution, Ms Sheble was fighting a decision by the Home Office to deny her mother’s application for a guest visa. She hoped she might join her while she was recovering from her illness.
The Home Office granted her mother a guest visa following pressure from an open letter signed by over 200 University of Warwick staff and students, as well as support from Shabana Mahmood, MP Birmingham Ladywood.
The pair has finally been reunited, according to Unis Against Border Controls.
“There came a point when I didn’t think I was going to see my mother before dying. It was a frightening thought,” said Ms Sheble.
A spokesperson for Warwick University and College Union said: “We are delighted with this outcome and will continue pushing the university to honour their commitments. No university should deprive any student with a disability or a chronic health condition of their education.”
Warwick University said its initial decision to refuse the study extension was reversed after an investigation and it later wrote to the Home Office asking for Ms Sheble’s mother to be allowed to visit her.