In December 2013, NUS responded to a call for information from the Office of Fair Trading, who decided to take an unprecedented step by declaring an interest in the way the HE sector is working, particualrly in terms of fair consumer practice and the state of competition and market regulation.
The Office of Fair trading is a non-ministerial government department which enforces both consumer protection and competition law. Their interest in the HE sector is potentially very important, as they have the authority to conduct a full market investigation into practices and, if necessary, intervene to uphold the rights of students if they are being treated unfairly according to the law.
For this reason, NUS has taken the call for information very seriously, and has attempted to highlight issues that we think the OFT would have a reason to investigate. We believe that the OFT are well placed to help students' unions to tackle bad practice in a number of areas, and ensure that students get the quality of education they deserve.
In November and December, we worked with students' unions and partner organisations to put together a collection of evidence to help support our concerns over the way students are treated in relation to their rights. In particular, we gathered evidence on the scope and impact of additional course costs, variations in tuition fees for international students, issues relating to course closures and transferring between courses or institutions, the reliability of marketing and course information, and the way complaints are handled.
You can download and read a copy of our submission here.