Teen left out of university course due to wheelchair

A wheelchair user has been left bitterly disappointed after signing up for a university course only to learn a week before it began that it wouldn't be accessible to her.

Nineteen-year-old Marieka Tallon had paid for the AUT course and noted her disability on forms, but didn't hear from the university until just before classes were due to start.

The teen loves to cook and has dreams of opening her own bakery. She was excited when she signed up for AUT's two-year Diploma in Patisserie.

That excitement turned to disappointment when she was invited in for a tour of the kitchen one week before classes were due to start.

During the tour it was made clear Ms Tallon wouldn't be able to do the course due to workstations and ovens being too high for her to reach.

"I was a bit upset and I was wondering why they didn't contact me earlier to organise a tour, because in my enrolment form I put that I was a wheelchair user," Ms Tallon told Newshub. 

She had no choice but to pull out of the course.

Her mother Jeanette said her "heart sank" when she heard the news.

"I thought 'oh no' - because she's had trouble trying to get work experience in cakeries because this is what she wants to do."

It's angered advocacy group CCS Disability Action, who say everyone should have the right to study.

Campaigner Debbie Ward knows a number of wheelchair users employed in kitchens.

"It's disappointing that barriers are being put up for disabled people to access courses and achieve the dreams they might have for their futures," she said. 

AUT has apologised to Ms Tallon and hopes to alter the kitchen so that wheelchair users will be able to study there in the future.

She's now studying patisserie online and has set up a page to sell her baking, with some of the profits going towards her dream of a bakery - one which will be accessible to everyone.