Uni awarded me best dissertation prize… then took it back 20 minutes later

They told the wrong student she’d won


After getting a high first on her dissertation, an ecstatic third year was told she was being awarded a top uni prize.

So imagine Samantha French’s horror when she discovered the email had been sent to the wrong person, and she hadn’t won anything at all.

Sussex finalist Samantha, 23, admitted the wrongly addressed message left a “bad taste in my mouth”.

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Samantha French was outraged

She said: “The uni emailed me saying ‘Hey you’ve been awarded this prize for best dissertation’ and said they were going to wire £150 to my bank account.

“They were going to send a letter from the head of the school and announce the prize as I walk to get my diploma at graduation in a couple of weeks.”

But Samantha, who is originally from New York, had her excitement shattered when the university responded soon after.

“20 minutes later she emails back saying ‘oh my god I’m sorry this was meant for someone else’.”

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The email Samantha was originally sent, awarding her the dissertation prize

After getting the relatively high mark of 74, Samantha wasn’t too surprised when the prize email arrived.

She said: “It wasn’t that far-fetched. I did get quite a good first in my dissertation.

“I didn’t even know there was a dissertation prize, and I wouldn’t have cared if they hadn’t emailed me to say I’d won.”

Written as part of an American literature module, the dissertation she was mistakenly given the award for was titled “From my cold, dead hands: Why America Sticks to her Guns”.

Unfortunately most of Samantha’s family knew about the prize by the time the uni corrected their original email.

“Of course the 20 minutes gave me just enough time to text my mum and I found out she’s told my grandmother who is really ill.

“She did her thing and texted everyone else, I bit faster than I’d have liked.

“They were really thrilled. I worked very hard and was obviously very proud of my dissertation.

“I didn’t post about the prize on Facebook, luckily!”


The apology sent 20 minutes later

But this isn’t the first time Samantha has been messed around by her course.

“I can’t say that I’m massively shocked that this happened. The English department has been very disorganised.

“Last year the whole registration system crashed so we had to be sorted into our modules by hand. It was a huge mess.”

A University spokesperson said: “We are sorry that a student was mistakenly contacted about the English department’s annual dissertation prize. This was a human error that was spotted very quickly by the member of staff concerned, who then immediately corrected the mistake and apologised to the student.

“Although rare, mistakes do happen from time to time and the student has been invited to discuss the situation with the Head of the School of English.”