Med school rejection woes taken to court

Photo: ODT
Photo: ODT
A woman declined entry to the University of Otago’s medical school four times has taken her complaint to court.

Kelly Alexandra Roe appeared before the High Court at Dunedin yesterday and stressed to Justice David Gendall she was not seeking financial damages or the removal from office of any person.

Nor was she now seeking entry to the course for which she had previously been rejected.

‘‘The purpose is solely to obtain some sort of declaration from the court as to what is legal or not ... for other students in the future,’’ Ms Roe said.

‘‘I’m worried this could lead to class action in the future.’’

Counsel Diccon Sim said the tertiary institution believed Ms Roe had been treated fairly in all her dealings with the university.

He disagreed with her interpretation of the Education and Training Act as it pertained to students over the age of 20.

Ms Roe first applied to study medicine at the University of Otago in 2012, she said.

She was offered an interview and declined a position, finding out several years later that she received the second lowest interview score of all applicants.

Ms Roe told the court yesterday she attempted to get in again in 2017 and 2018 but was removed from the process before selection.

In 2020, she said, the university refused to provide her with an application for enrolment.

That decision was against the spirit of the legislation, Ms Roe argued.

Despite the woman’s efforts, Mr Sim said they were not exhaustive.

She had not applied for entry to the course under the ‘‘exceptional circumstances’’ pathway, an option that had been expressly highlighted to her.

Ms Roe has had a busy 12 months before the courts.

In December last year, she applied for judicial review after the University of Auckland declined her application to enter the bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery courses in 2018 and 2019.

The High Court dismissed the legal challenge and ordered Ms Roe to pay costs of more than $18,000 to the university.

She sought to argue the decision before the Court of Appeal but could not provide financial security for costs which may have arisen.

‘‘She is pursuing her appeal for her own advantage, not to advance a real issue of public importance,’’ Justice Forrie Miller said.

In the past 11 months, she has also faced off against the University of Waikato, the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors Committee and the Auckland District Health Board, all without success.

Justice Gendall reserved his decision yesterday.



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