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Course delivery - PI071906
Public interest case July 2019 | Partly Justified
A group of eight students complained to the provider about the content of their healthcare-related course, how it was delivered and the support they were given on their programme. The complaints related to the first and second years of their studies.
For most of that time the group had not had a personal tutor. Some teaching hours were cancelled for some modules, and there were delays in making important course materials available online. The students also complained that a key part of the course, which led to accreditation, had not been taught as promised and the students were not given the necessary skills to practise safely. The group also complained about the behaviour of a member of staff, who had been unapproachable and aggressive. Some of the complaints were supported by other members of staff.
The provider partly upheld the complaints and accepted that it didn’t deliver the programme as it should have and that a member of staff (no longer employed at the University) had behaved inappropriately. It offered each student an apology and £500, and took steps to put things right for the rest of the Programme. The provider upheld some of the complaints, partly upheld some, and rejected the others.
The group rejected the provider’s offer and complained to us. They told us that they wanted a refund of all tuition fees paid for years one and two, plus additional compensation for distress and inconvenience.
We decided that the complaint was Partly Justified. There were significant shortcomings in the overall delivery of the programme and it was likely that the provider had not followed the requirements of consumer protection legislation. The steps the provider had taken following discussions with students, to put things right in the third year would add to the students’ workload.
We decided that it was reasonable that the provider had upheld some of the complaints. But we did not think that the offer of £500 per student was enough, given the conclusions the provider had reached and the supportive comments from some of the programme team.
We recommended that the provider should offer to refund tuition fees of £2,140 to each student in the group. This was for the modules that were not delivered as set out in the programme and module specifications. We also recommended that it should pay the sum of £1,500 to each of them in compensation for the distress and inconvenience they were caused by a lack of pastoral and academic support.
We made two good practice Recommendations. The first was a general one that the provider should review its internal procedures, guidance and practice to make sure that staff understood the requirements of consumer law and the importance of providing accurate information to applicants and students. The second was that the provider should review its programme specification and other material for the specific programme to make sure that they were compliant with consumer protection law.