23rd October 2015
Three quarters of university websites surveyed by consumer group Which? are failing to provide vital information about courses and fees to prospective students potentially putting them in breach of consumer law.
With UCAS applications for 2016/17 having opened in September, Which? compared the information available to prospective students, for the 2016/17 Psychology course across 50 UK higher education institutions’ websites. The information included the number of contact hours, the staff delivering on the course and the expected workload.
Based on the information provided by the universities, Which? found that around three-quarters or 38 providers were breaching consumer law by failing to provide at least one piece of vital information for prospective students. Three institutions, Canterbury Christ Church University, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Huddersfield, were found to be consistently failing to provide approximately 30% of the information required, including up to date information on tuition fees.
Which? says that while no institution consistently provided good practice across all areas, Leeds Trinity University and University of Greenwich demonstrated good practice across a number of areas. This included details on the number of contact hours students can expect, the workload and assessments for their course and fees they will be expected to pay.
The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) published advice in March setting out how consumer law applies to the higher education sector, including measures to ensure information is available to students, so they can compare courses and make an informed choice. Which? research shows nearly two-thirds (64%) of institutions failed to provide students with up to date information on course fees, and four in five did not state or provide clarity on any extra fees students may have to pay to complete the course.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, says: “Students deserve to know at least the basics of what they can expect from a course before signing up, so it’s disappointing to find that a large number of universities still breaching consumer law. It’s encouraging to see some providers demonstrating good practice, but we now need all universities to make better information easily available and accessible for prospective students. We will be submitting our findings to the CMA to inform their investigation on whether universities are complying with its advice.”