A struggling student who tried to turn his grades around with cash has been jailed for twelve months. He was also found to be carrying a loaded air pistol.
Yang Li, 26 from China, was studying an innovation and technology management masters programme at the University of Bath. The student was awarded a mark of 37% in his dissertation which was just short of the 40% required to pass. The student set-up a meeting with his professor on 23 November to discuss his options.
Li went to the meeting with £5,000 in cash and an air pistol, which fell from his pocket when told to leave.
Judge Michael Longman said the student had caused “fear” and “alarm” during sentencing at Bristol Crown Court,.
Li admitted the attempted bribery and the imitation firearm charge, and was also ordered to pay £4,800 in costs.
Li was actually given a range of options by Professor Andrew Graves – head of Bath’s School of Management – to resubmit the dissertation, to appeal to mark awarded or to withdraw from the course.
The Chinese student chose differently, instead deciding to declare to his Professor that “I am a businessman”, then placed the cash on the table.
Li was reported to say, “There is a fourth option, you can keep the money if you give me a pass mark and I won’t bother you again.”
Professor Graves asked Li to leave and as the student put the money away, the air pistol, loaded with six pellets, fell out the student’s pocket and onto the floor.
Judge Longman told the student: “You attempted to persuade a university professor to behave in such a way that if it had been successful you would have undermined the integrity of the universities in the UK and the legitimacy of degrees from universities here, the University of Bath in particular.
“Your bid to achieve a pass mark by offering what was a bribe to your professor was ill conceived to the point of being a spectacular mistake and one which was doomed to fail from the start.”
Li’s defence team argued that the student came from an “affluent family in China, where his father is a respected government official and businessman.”
The court also heard that Li was used to travelling with lots of cash and that he had the air pistol with him as he didn’t want to leave it in his car. He owned the pistol as he enjoyed target shooting.,
Mr James – part of Li’s defence team – went on to say: “…[he] is not [a] sham student…and had come to the UK in 2006 for a computer science degree at the University of Bath, which he passed.
“When he learned of the result of the dissertation it was a bitter blow to him.”