Cardiff University student took own life after being wrongly told she'd failed exam

Mared Foulkes, 21, was in her second year studying pharmaceuticals Credit: Daily Post Wales

A 'devoted' Cardiff University student took her own life after she was wrongly told she had failed her exams and could not progress to the third year of her course, an inquest has heard.

Mared Foulkes, 21, from Anglesey, north Wales, died on July 8 after falling from a bridge.

The Cardiff University student was in her second year studying pharmaceuticals, having worked part-time in a pharmacy for several years.

An inquest in Caernarfon on 28 October, was told Miss Foulkes had received an automated email from the university hours before her death saying that she had failed her re-sit exam and would not be moving on to third year.

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One email stated she had failed with a score of 39% when in fact she had passed the exam with 62%.

The 39% related to a previous exam she had failed on March 26 and not the re-sit exam she had taken - and passed - on April 24.

Professor Mark Gumbleton, Head of School, told the inquest there were "lessons always to be learned" following Miss Foulkes's death in relation to the "confusing" way students receive their results.

Speaking during the inquest her mother, Iona Foulkes, said she felt it was "plain and simple" that her daughter's actions that day were a "direct result" of receiving the email from Cardiff University.

Mrs Foulkes said: "She received an automatic email - there was nothing personal - no phone call, nothing.

"She believed she had failed and the email said she could not progress with her degree.

"She was devoted to her course and to her work in the pharmacy, she would have been horrified.

"She would have felt like all her dreams and aspirations had finished with that sentence - for a 21-year-old it's unbelievable."

The mother-of-two said she felt that the course tutor should have been in contact with Miss Foulkes directly regarding the results and believes parents of students should be made aware of when exam results are due.

When the Covid-19 pandemic started, Miss Foulkes' studies were moved online.

The inquest heard how Miss Foulkes had gone to work at Rowlands Pharmacy in Caernarfon on the morning of her death and returned home to have dinner with her parents and brother at around 6pm.

She then told her mum she was going to Tesco in Bangor to get ingredients to make a cheesecake the following day.

Shortly after leaving the house Miss Foulkes drove to the bridge where she died.

Mrs Foulkes said her daughter made no mention of the fact she was due to receive results that day or that she had received an email saying that she had not been successful.

She also said Miss Foulkes showed no signs of feeling down in the lead up to her death but had been upset by the recent death of her grandmother.

The emergency services were called by members of the public after her fall but sadly Miss Foulkes was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem examination later revealed that she sustained a lethal head injury in the fall.

Prior to taking her own life, Miss Foulkes had texted one of her housemates about the results saying: "I did crap".

The inquest also heard how Miss Foulkes had sought help from student support services prior to her death but at that time it was not believed that she posed a risk to herself or others.Acting senior coroner Katie Sutherland concluded that Miss Foulkes had intended death to be the outcome of her actions.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, Ms Sutherland said: "On the morning of her death Mared had received examination results.

"One email indicated that she had not successfully completed the year.

She continued: "There is no evidence that she slipped or tripped or fell by accident.

"Mared had not sought any help from a GP regarding low mood and there were no suicide notes.

"She did not report suicidal thoughts when she sought assistance from student support in 2019 but did appear distressed and admitted that she was engaging in self harm.

"I don't consider her death to be a cry for help. I do consider that she had the intent to end her life and will return a conclusion of suicide."

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