Consumer Law Compliance By Higher Education Providers To Be Reviewed

The CMA has published guidelines to help higher education providers comply with consumer law when dealing with students, before they will launch an industry-wide review in October.

In the advice, published today (12 March 2015), the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has informed higher education providers of their obligations to undergraduate students under the consumer law.

The advice outlines that providers should:

  • give students the clear, accurate and timely information that they need so they can make an informed decision about what and where to study;
  • ensure that their terms and conditions are fair, for example, so they cannot make surprising changes to the course or costs;
  • ensure that their complaint handling processes are accessible, clear and fair.

The CMA is asking higher education providers to review their current processes and amend their practices if they’re not in line with the advice.

Students are also invited to notify the CMA directly, via a dedicated email address, if they find that a higher education providers is not complying with consumer law.

Following the information from higher education providers and students alike, the government body will then review the industry in October 2015 to assess compliance with consumer law.

Nisha Arora, Senior Director, Consumer at the CMA, said that consumer law is an "important" part of the wider academic relationship between higher education providers and students.

She added: "It helps to ensure that students are given the information they need to make an informed choice about what and where to study and are then treated fairly during their period of study.

"With the UK higher education sector playing a key role in our economy and having an enviable international reputation, compliance with consumer law is an important way of maintaining student confidence and the standards and reputation of the sector."