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Student from Bristol wins battle with her college to skip module on farming – because she’s vegan

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

An animal management student has won a battle with her college to skip the module on farming – because she’s vegan.

Fiji Willetts, 18, says she enrolled on the course after reading it was “great for people who love animals” in the college prospectus.

But she was soon devastated when she found out she had to complete a module on farm husbandry – including working on a farm and possibly visiting an abattoir.

The vegan of four years claims tutors at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS College Filton) said skipping the unit would result in an “automatic fail”.

The animal lover claims she was told she could alternatively leave the college or enroll in another course.

Worried a fail would scupper her chances of going to uni – but unwilling to study raising animals for food – she turned to “vegan rights advocates” for help.

And after numerous complaints, she’s finally been told she can do a “more suitable” module instead.

Fiji, from Downend, Bristol, said: “I am vegan because I love animals, so to attend a farm where I would be supporting a farmer would be wrong.

“I would have been denied a college education.

“I couldn’t simply break my way of living purely to pass a course.

“I hope I can now be an example to other vegans so they don’t have to go through the ordeal I went through.”

But after enrolling, she discovered she had to take and pass, a module on farm husbandry – the branch of agriculture which focuses on raising animals for products.

Students were expected to attend working farms and a slaughterhouse visit was also discussed, according to the Vegan Society, which supported Fiji’s claim.

Fiji started suffering with anxiety and raised concerns with her tutor, but was told she had to complete the module or fail, the society claims.

She submitted a formal complaint to the college, which maintained a substitute module was not available, it is claimed.

A similar complaint was issued to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), who supported the college.

But the case was escalated to the awarding body for non-compliance with equality law, and college tutors finally changed their minds.

Five months after the start of Fiji’s claim, they have agreed to provide “a more suitable module” for her to complete at the college in Filton, Bristol.

Jeanette Rowley, vegan rights advocate at The Vegan Society, said: “I’m delighted Fiji was able to stay at her college and continue working towards her diploma.

“This was a really big win for Fiji, and for the vegan movement.

“Education providers have a duty to be inclusive and must do everything they can to remove any disadvantages faced by vegans.

“There is an urgent need to assess the approach taken to teaching students about nonhuman animals and the way they are treated.

“Vegans in the UK have the protection of human rights and equality law, and it is vital that schools and colleges understand that they are under a statutory duty to examine how their educational policies and practices might have a negative impact on vegan students.”

The college has been approached for comment.

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