Cardiff University promises change after suicide of Mared Foulkes who was given wrong exam result

Mared Foulkes was a second-year pharmacy student at Cardiff University. Credit: Family photo

Cardiff University will change the way it distributes exam results, following the suicide of a student who had been wrongly told she had failed an exam.

Second-year pharmacy student Mared Foulkes, 21, was found dead near Britannia Bridge in July 2020 just hours after she received an email saying she would not be able to progress to the third-year of her course.

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 in October 2021 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.

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."

'Complex and confusing'

Cardiff University has now announced a number of "immediate and on-going actions" following Mared's death, and said it recognises that "the process for the ratification and release of our in-year resit results could be complex and confusing."

The university's statement continued: "As a result, all available results will now be ratified at the University’s Main Examining Board meetings in June. This means that students will know the outcome of all assessments they have taken, including in-year resits, and will not have provisional results that are subject to later ratification in September.

Mared Foulkes died believing she had failed her exam after receiving an incorrect result. Credit: Family photo

"The practice of using a notional or estimated mark to record an academic ‘fail’ where the student has not met a competency standard has been stopped with immediate effect."

The university also said it was determined to improve the "tone and language" of written communication with students, and to make explicit reference to where help can be accessed if needed.

The statement added: "Mared was a valued member of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the wider University, and we would like to again express our sincere condolences to her family and friends at this time."