A Wiltshire College student missed out on her dream university place after staff malpractice delayed the students’ results until January.

Felicity Southam, who studied a level three agriculture course at the college’s Lackham campus, was offered a place at Harper Adams University near Telford studying agriculture with animal science, beginning September, 2022.

But nobody on her course received their grades on results day due to an investigation into suspected plagiarism, carried out by Wiltshire College and external moderator City and Guilds. Students were asked to provide written statements explaining the suspected plagiarism during this process.

In December the college told students the investigation “found that an incident with staff malpractice occurred relating to the qualification assessment submissions.

“As a result, all assessment evidence across two qualifications had to be remarked and externally moderated.”

Ms Southam had until September 7 to provide Harper Adams with her results and was forced to give up her place when she was unable to do so.

The disappointment of losing her place, and the long wait for an outcome, has been challenging for her.

She said: “I missed out on my dream university spot. I had moments where I went crying to my mum because I didn’t know what to do with my life.

“I had it all planned out around going to university. It was a very difficult time mentally and I lost a bit of confidence in myself because it felt like they were accusing us of plagiarism when I worked so hard for two years. I was quite disheartened.”

While she will be able to reapply this year, she will now be subject to the lower student loan repayment threshold for 2023 starters.

The college say the incident was isolated and have apologised for the impact it has had on students.

A spokesperson said: “Our robust internal quality assurance processes identified a potential issue with assessment malpractice and after working with the awarding body City & Guilds on an extensive investigation and moderation process, we found that an isolated incident of assessment malpractice had occurred.

“This related to a small number of qualification assessment submissions in July 2022, and once identified action was taken immediately. As a result, all assessment evidence impacted by this issue has been reassessed and externally moderated to ensure the accuracy of results awarded to students.

“We apologise for the impact this has had on the students involved and are committed to supporting them. We thank them for their patience and cooperation during the investigation.”

A City and Guilds spokesperson added: “We are aware of an investigation relating to assessment practice at Wiltshire College and have been working closely with the college in this regard.

“City and Guilds is committed to high quality qualifications and to ensure that all assessments are undertaken securely, fairly and in line with our published requirements, and that all learner results are valid and reliable.

“We understand this issue has impacted students and we want to express our sympathies to anyone affected.

“We encourage any learners with outstanding questions regarding their results to get in touch with Wiltshire College in the first instance or contact our customer service team at learner.support@cityandguilds.com.”

Ms Southam finally received her results on January 3, 2023, and achieved a triple distinction star, the highest possible grade and more than she needed to secure her place at university.

She is currently assessing her options after dislocating her knee, which will keep her out of agriculture for around a year, and is setting up her own dog walking business.