Two things universities can do today to comply with consumer law

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), previously called ‘The Office of Fair Trading’, is here to ensure that students get a fair treatment from universities.

In the eyes of the law, the student is a consumer and therefore protected under consumer law.

The CMA has taken action to ensure Higher Education providers are complying – with hefty fines for those who aren’t. What was promised and sold to the student must be what is delivered.

Universities have a duty of care to students and must provide ‘pre-contract’ information, including the following:

  • Course information
  • Course fees
  • Complaints procedure
  • Cancellation rights

As part of the prerequisites, universities must:

  • Deliver clear and fair terms and conditions
  • Communicate any changes, including changes to course content and structure, costs and T&Cs, to students since they first applied

Universities cannot operate as traders in recruitment and not fall under consumer law.

There are some very simple things universities can do to ensure they are complaint with consumer law.

1. Easily accessible T&Cs

Do you know exactly where T&Cs are on your website? If you do know, could this perhaps be due to your own personal knowledge of the site, as opposed to an intuitive and accessible UX (user experience) and IA (information architecture)?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, you should review where your T&Cs are on your website to ensure they are easily accessible. Many organisations put this in the footer on the site - making it easier for any user to access.

2. Easily accessible complaints procedure

Exactly as above, could you go onto your site and know exactly where your complaints procedure is? Could you confidently say that a user without any prior experience on your site could do the same?

Again, if the answer is no, review the accessibility of your complaints procedure, as you could be in breach of consumer law.

Doing these two simple changes would get you a big thumbs up from the CMA. Want to find out more about how you can ensure you are compliant with consumer law, including digital solutions and more top tips? Watch our webinar ‘Students are consumers - and they know their rights’ on-demand now.

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