Sydney University student was ‘snobbed’ at medical school Open Day as a person from western Sydney

Sydney University student was ‘snobbed’ at medical school Open Day as a person from western Sydney

A medical student has claimed his neighbourhood and humble state high school background led to him being led to him being ‘snobbed’ at one of Australia’s most prestigious universities.

The experience was so humiliating that Fahad Khan said it almost caused him to give up his dream of becoming a doctor. 

In a TikTok video, which has almost 50K likes, third-year medical student Fahad  recalled his experience of attending Sydney University’s Open Day as a year 12 student in 2016 from western Sydney.

Excited to go and explore the campus, Fahad soon found himself ostracised and alone while other students chatted among their elite friendship groups – who all mostly go to the same private schools.  

Under the caption ‘Getting snobbed @USyd Open Day as a person from Western Sydney’, Fahad explained what happened when he attended the medicine information session.

‘I saw that there were two medical students, I think, and about 10 Year 12 students with them,’ Fahad said.

‘When I went close to them I heard them speaking about things like “does Mr X still teach maths and does Mrs X still do that?”, which indicated to him both the prospective and current students had all attended the same schools. 

‘And they were all having a laugh and I went “look they are all mates, that’s like pretty nice”.’

Fahad eventually went to the University of NSW to study neuroscience and is now at the University of Western Sydney doing his medical degree

Fahad eventually went to the University of NSW to study neuroscience and is now at the University of Western Sydney doing his medical degree

The caption on the TikTok video changes to: ‘This is why I believe there’s parts of USyd with a toxic selective/private school culture’ as Fahad describes trying to join in the conversation. 

‘I tried to say hello and they ignored me,’ he explained.

‘And then I say it again… I say “hi, my name’s Fahad”.’ 

‘And they all turned around and they looked at me and then they looked away and one of the medical students was like “oh, hi”. 

‘And then they all started talking about their high school again and I said “what the hell? They just like kind of ignored me”,’ Fahad says.

‘But I said “you know what? The session is starting in five minutes, maybe this is just a group of mates and fair enough if they want to talk to their mates before they start talking to everyone, that’s fine”.’

However, things did not improve when the session started. 

‘The first question they asked was “which high school did everyone go to?”,’ Fahad says.

‘Most of them were James Ruse students, there was some Sydney Boys [High] and Sydney Girls. 

In his TikTok video Fahad says there is a 'toxic selective/private school culture' at Sydney University

In his TikTok video Fahad says there is a ‘toxic selective/private school culture’ at Sydney University

‘I was the only student from a non-selective non-private school.’

A number of people reported that they had similar experiences to Fahad at Sydney University

A number of people reported that they had similar experiences to Fahad at Sydney University

Fahad, who eventually went to University of NSW to gain a neuroscience degree and is now at the University of Western Sydney doing his third year of medical studies, describes what happened next as ‘unbelievable’.

He said all those from the selective and private schools were taken to one side of the room to talk to the current medical students, while he was left alone on the other side. 

‘I asked them ‘Am I coming? Am I also included in this?’

‘And the medical student turned around to me and he was like “oh, there’s like this third medical student going to come, you hang out with that person” and I was like “what the hell?”.’

Those commenting on Fahad's TikTok video showed his experience was far from unique

Those commenting on Fahad’s TikTok video showed his experience was far from unique

The third medical student never showed up.

Fahad decided he was ‘going to force’ himself into the experience.  

‘So, I went there and I sat with them, and I forced myself to sit with them and do what they were doing,’ Fahad says.

‘And I kid you not throughout the entire 100 per cent of the session they were talking about inside jokes from their high school.

‘Whenever I asked a question like, “how was first year? How was second year?” they were like, “oh yeah, it’s alright”.

‘Then they looked away and started talking about their high school again and I was like, “what the hell is wrong with these people?”.’

Fahad said the experience was shattering.

One TikTok user, who said they worked at the university, expressed their horror at the story

One TikTok user, who said they worked at the university, expressed their horror at the story

‘I remember leaving that session completely humiliated,’ he said.

‘Then on the train home I remember thinking about how my peers at school would laugh at me when I said I wanted to be a doctor and they would just say to me “you know some dreams are out of reach”. 

‘That day almost made me believe I couldn’t be a doctor.’ 

A spokesperson for the University of Sydney said that Fahad’s story was ‘dismaying’  

‘We are deeply committed to diversity and to helping talented students realise their potential, whatever their social, cultural or financial circumstances,’ a spokesperon said.

‘We are dismayed by the experience Fahad Khan describes.

‘We work hard to ensure everyone is accepted and has equal opportunities on our campuses.

‘But we also know we need to do more to attract, support and retain students who have traditionally been under-represented and under-served in higher education.’

On its website Sydney University says that ‘welcoming is part of our culture’.

‘We get behind a range of activities to ensure everyone is accepted and has equal opportunities when it comes to education and employment in our university,’ the university writes under the heading of ‘Diversity’. 

The comments underneath the video made it clear that Fahad’s experience wasn’t unique. 

‘I went through usyd med as one of the only non selective/public schooled/low SES students and it was so isolating being around so much privilege,’ one wrote.

‘Usyd was so toxic, I transferred there my 2nd uni year and the vast majority of people looked down on me for the area I came from,’ another said.

‘Definitely a superiority complex held by many students at usyd,’ another wrote.

‘They won’t go too far. I go usyd and I swear med sci kids r always like this!’

Fahad’s story touched at least one person who said they were associated with the university.   

‘From someone that works at USYD: Really sorry you had to go through this man. Was heartbreaking to watch,’ they wrote.

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