Vegan student claims she was told to do farming module or drop out

Fiji Willetts, 18, says she enrolled on the course because she loves animals (Picture: Vegan Society/ SWNS)

A vegan animal management student has battled with tutors to skip a farming module, which would have involved a trip to an abattoir.

Fiji Willetts, 18, says she signed up for her course after reading it was ‘great for people who love animals’ in South Gloucestershire and Stroud College’s prospectus.

The vegan of four years started suffering from anxiety when she realised one of the modules would involve working on a farm and potentially visiting a slaughterhouse.

She raised her concerns with tutors and claims she was told skipping the animal husbandry unit would result in an ‘automatic fail’.

Ms Willlets, from Downend, Bristol, says she was given the alternative of leaving or enrolling on another course.

But the college disputes this, claiming she could have swapped the husbandry module with either advanced animal nutrition or business management in the animal sector without failing.

They deny telling her to drop out, instead providing her with careers advice and information on alternative units she could pick.

The vegan of four years says she was horrified to discover the course would involve working on a farm(Picture: Vegan Society/SWNS)
The college says she always could have chosen two alternative modules (Picture: Vegan Society/SWNS)

On numerous occasions, the college says it told Ms Willets and her parents the course would be delivered ‘with the highest regard for animal welfare’ and that nothing would be done to disregard her beliefs.

Students are encouraged to take the husbandry course because of its ‘usefulness to the local economy’, but it is not compulsory, staff added.

But fearing she was going to be ‘denied a college education’ unless she worked on a farm, Ms Willetts turned to the Vegan Society for help.

Ms Willetts said: ‘I am vegan because I love animals, so to attend a farm where I would be supporting a farmer would be wrong. 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.’

Ms Willetts complained not only to the college but also to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

But Ms Willetts escalated her complaint for alleged non-compliance with equity law (Picture: SWNS)
Ms Willetts says she was told she could leave the college, but tutors deny this (Picture: SWNS)

Neither of them supported her claim, but the case was then escalated to the awarding body for alleged non-compliance with equity law.

Five months after the first complaint, Ms Willetts says tutors at the college in Filton, Bristol, finally agreed to provide ‘a more suitable module’ for her.

But explaining how this was always an option, a spokesperson told ‘At no time as Fiji Willetts responded to any of our formal correspondence or efforts to reach out.

‘Fiji Willetts has refused to engage with the Curriculum team regarding the alternative options offered to her or the taught elements of unit 19 (husbandry)’.

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

‘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.’

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