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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

UF error leaves international student without graduate degree

After two years at UF, graduate student Darryn Ball had his graduation application rejected due to a university mistake

Photo courtesy of Darryn Ball
Photo courtesy of Darryn Ball

Darryn Ball was on track for a master’s degree — or so he thought.

Then, an email came in the week before Summer finals ahead of graduation. Two years, a 3.83 GPA and more than $9,700 in non-refundable tuition fees later, his master’s degree admission was revoked.

Ball, who lives in Canada, was accepted to UF Summer 2019 to pursue a graduate certificate in pharmaceutical chemistry but switched over to medical pharmacology and therapeutics last Spring. He planned on using the credits he earned during those programs to apply for a master’s in pharmacology.

He received a three-year bachelor’s degree in chemistry in Australia. UF, however, requires a four-year bachelor’s degree for the program he was pursuing. 

That wasn’t advertised on UF’s website when Ball applied, he said. And that didn’t stop UF from accepting his application in the first place.

“Admissions made a mistake,” Ball said. “They overlooked it on at least two occasions because I clearly sent in my transcripts. I sent them a copy of the degree, but someone didn't check it properly.”

In an email to Ball, Graduate Certificate Coordinator of the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics Stephen Jahn wrote that he would have the requirements changed on the website to avoid further confusion.

“Everyone involved in the situation admits that it should have been caught sooner,” Jahn wrote to Ball. “I apologize on behalf of the university.”

But Ball feels like the UF administration brushed him off.

“I would have thought they would have come up with other solutions,” Ball said. “If they're really hard on the four-year degree, then I would have expected them to say, ‘Well, can you do this, and then to satisfy the requirements,’ but it wasn't the case.”

Both of the certificates were transferable to a master’s degree as long as Ball maintained a 3.0 GPA. He was accepted into both programs separately — even though UF ombudsman Ron Anderson told him both share the master’s degree requirement: a four-year bachelor’s.

Amid his frustration, Ball said Jahn told him to consider the situation from another perspective: He was graduating with a certification that he wouldn’t have had if the degree issues were caught sooner.

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This upset Ball, so he sent a photo of the certification and told Jahn it should remind him of how an “honest student got screwed over” by the university that pays his salary. After all, he believes it has more value to Jahn than it does in Canada.

“Anything from a foreign university other than a bachelor, master’s [or] PhD does not mean anything here, and I can’t advance in my career with the graduate certificate,'' Ball said. “This master’s is directly related to my full-time job.”

Jahn, Anderson and Director of Freshman and International Admissions Charles Murphy didn’t respond to comment as of Tuesday. 

Although Ball earned a graduate certificate, he said he plans to mail it to the university. The certificate — and UF  —  are tainted to him.

“It stands for a dishonest, misleading institution that led me down the garden path then screwed me over,” he said. “I lost so much time and money, yet I did everything correctly.”

Ball doesn’t want to be reminded of this ordeal. And that’s exactly what the certificate does. It reminds him of how his plans were derailed by a mistake he said wasn’t his fault.

Contact Christian Casale at Follow him on Twitter @vanityhack.

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Christian Casale

Christian is a fourth-year history major. In the past, he’s served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Valencia Voice. He now covers the University Administration for the Alligator. In his free time he likes reading and nodding along to Bruce Springsteen songs.

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