British student took own life after being wrongly told she failed exam

A British pharmacy student tragically took her own life after being wrongly told she had failed an exam and could not progress to the third year of her degree, an inquest into her death found this week. 

Mared Foulkes, 21, of Menai Bridge, Anglesey, received an email from Cardiff University on July 8, 2020 indicating that she’d failed the assessment, the BBC reported

However, the results email did not include the fact that she had passed a retake of the exam, according to the outlet. 

The evening Mared received the email, she drove to a bridge in north Wales, where her body was discovered, according to the report. 

Her test result was later updated to a pass, but it was too late, Wales Online reported

North West and North Wales Coroner Katie Sutherland determined Thursday that Mared’s cause of death was suicide, according to the local reports. 

During the conclusion of the inquest, Mared’s parents Glyngwyn and Iona Foulkes said they were in “disbelief” at the “complicated and confusing” way the university dealt with its students, The Daily Post reported

Cardiff University building
Cardiff University said their “challenge is to avoid a situation where we create confusion.” Mared Foulkes’ passed grade was not clearly communicated to her.
Getty Images

“We are sad at the outcome that could and should have been so different,” they said. “Now we’re left with memories, photographs and memories of her kindness, her fine qualities, gestures and of all that she gave to our family, her brother and her friends. We cry easily and often, our tears are uncontrollable and exhausting when unprompted memories remind us that we are totally bereft.”

“We’re not the first parents to express disbelief at the poor communications between universities and students and we’re sorrowful that we won’t be the last,” the grieving parents added. “We entrusted her wellbeing to the university and now we very much hope that Cardiff University will attend to the coroner’s prevention of future death report.”

The coroner said that Cardiff University’s system for informing students of their results could be confusing — and urged the institution to look at urgent improvements, according to the BBC.

Prof Mark Gumbleton, head of Cardiff’s school of pharmacy, said Mared took her first practical test on March 26 as part of a module called formulation sciences.

She failed, but passed the retake on April 24 — which wasn’t accounted for in the email. 

Gumbledon called the emailing system standard practice, but added: “Lessons are always to be learned.”

“We acted within the regulations, but we need to move towards a simpler system of ratifying grades,” he said. “The challenge is to avoid a situation where we create confusion. I believe the university is looking at this and changes are going to take place.”

Cardiff University said its “thoughts and sympathies” were with Mared’s family and friends.

“Whilst we believe we acted within university regulations, we fully accept that lessons can and should be learnt,” the university said. “Changes are already being considered and we will cooperate fully with the coroner’s verdict.”

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