Fee paying students are consumers as per the Consumer Rights Act 2015. I know folks don’t like the framing, but we are where we are.
Now imagine that a student finds themselves enrolled on a course whose outcomes fall below OfS’ new minimums (the B3 bear).
Generally the duty to carry out the service with “reasonable care and skill” is about how the service is carried out, not its outcomes.
So a student might be able to argue that the advertising is misleading – and increasingly I expect that if someone (CMA or OfS) re-wrote the 2015 consumer rights guidance for HE, it would define some of those outcomes stats as “material” (to decision making) information that has to be supplied.
The big question, by the way, with the forthcoming Michelle Donelan edict on “including the outcomes on ads” thing is a) what is an advert and b) which outcomes – subject or provider? It’s the same debate as subject TEF. If you’re advertising geography, and its outcomes are good but the uni aggregate ones are worse, do you have to show the uni score, the subject score or the OfS score? and all vice versas.
But I digress. The OfS investigations aren’t actually about B3 – they’re about the other quality conditions, the ones about the provision itself rather than its outcomes. And here’s the question.
If OfS finds your business school hasn’t been delivering against what are now minimum quality thresholds, SURELY a student will then be able to get redress?
It would be like an episode of Watchdog telling you your kettle was faulty.
Surely students will be able to argue that the university has failed in its “deliver with reasonable skill and care” duty? And then, they’ll be entitled to the CRA15 remedies – price reductions, repeat performances, and so on.
Imagine the complaint to the OIA – my programme was not delivered to the minimum standard OfS requires, according to a formal ruling from OfS. How would OIA be able to do anything other than uphold that complaint?