Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University revoke offer after promising student a place on masters course

‘I was in absolute shock, it’s a student’s worst nightmare.'

By Katharine Hay
Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 9:08 am

A student has been left in despair after a university accepted her onto a masters course before turning it down just days before it was due to start.

Sharon Lee, 22, from Edinburgh, applied for a post-graduate degree in town planning at Heriot-Watt in July where she has recently completed a four-year undergraduate course.

Overjoyed at being accepted she began to make preparations for starting this month, including moving to a bigger flat where she could set up a suitable work-from-home space.

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Sharon Lee was accepted on a masters course at Heriot-Watt University before her offer was retracted

But a month and a half after being accepted, Sharon received an email from university staff on September 2 saying she was no longer suited for the course due to modules in her undergraduate degree overlapping with the masters and that her offer had been revoked.

"I was in absolute shock,” she said, still sounding stunned by her correspondence with university staff, “it’s a student’s worst nightmare.

“Nothing was clear about the fact that I couldn’t do this course when I was applying in July.

"It’s also horrific I didn’t receive a phone call about this, and I was instead just sent a meagre email.”

Sharon said shortly after being accepted she was enrolled on the course and had even been sent a welcome email.

It took the university a month and a half to realise she was unsuited to complete the masters, which by then meant applications for other universities had closed.

"Heriot-Watt suggested I apply to Edinburgh, which was pointless because applications have closed,” Sharon said.

"I am trying my best to find other places at the moment but it’s such short notice, and other universities don’t have the exact course I want to do.

"It’s so stressful, emotionally and financially.”

Sharon’s student finances are up in the air due to her not being enrolled on a course, and she is unsure as to whether or not she can keep her flat given her predicament.

"My future was in their hands, and they have ruined it,” she added.

"This is their mess and they’ve shown hardly any support and put little effort in to clear it up.”

Sharon turned down offers, including the opportunity to complete a scholarship for a course at Edinburgh Napier, in favour of the Heriot Watt masters.

A spokeswoman for Heriot-Watt University said: “Due to a crossover of courses on our urban undergraduate and postgraduate programmes we couldn’t accept the student on this course.

“As soon as it was realised the student had been offered a space on the course she was advised of two other alternatives at two other universities and we assisted in getting in touch with those course leaders. To date we are currently waiting on a response from one and have received a reference request for the other.

“While it is an isolated case, we apologise for any misunderstanding or upset this has caused the student and we are doing everything we can to support her.

It added students are advised at the start of fourth year that they are unable to take the subjects they completed at undergraduate level at postgraduate level.

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