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PI061606 - Financial Issues: Importance of clear communications
Public interest case June 2016 | Partly Justified
A student at Kingston University complained to us about his fee liability during a suspension from his study due to mitigating circumstances.
We decided the complaint was Partly Justified on narrow grounds relating to the communication to the student of his fee liability. While the University’s regulations set out fee liability it accepted that specific written advice to the student, that he might suspend his studies "without academic or financial penalty", was ambiguous. The University apologised to the student and offered to reduce his liability by 50% as a goodwill gesture in the light of the distress and inconvenience caused.
We saw no evidence that the University had informed the student of his fees position on his return or during the period of his suspension. While it would have been open to the student to seek clarification we considered that the University had a responsibility to explain the position to him and that its failure to do so made it difficult for the student to plan for his return.
We recommended that the University repeat its offer to reduce his liability by 50% and recommended an additional payment for distress and inconvenience.