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Industrial action - CS051908

The student was in the second and final year of their part-time master’s programme at the time of the industrial action. They complained to the University about the impact of the industrial action on their studies. The student asked for a tuition fee refund and compensation for distress and inconvenience.

The University said that to minimise the impact of the industrial action on the student it had put in place extensions to coursework deadlines, and that it had used academic judgment to ensure that the learning outcomes of the programme were delivered.

After the student complained to us, the University tried to settle the complaint by offering the student the opportunity to attend some of the missed seminars during the following academic year. The student rejected the settlement offer because they had completed the programme and so it was too late to benefit from attending the missed seminars.

We decided the complaint was Partly Justified.

We decided the University had taken appropriate steps to minimise the academic impact of the industrial action. However, it had not taken any steps to make up for the lost teaching hours and the learning opportunities they represented. We explained that, in our experience, most students don’t study at higher education providers purely to gain a qualification. Students who expect to learn about a particular subject but who don’t receive the teaching they are supposed to get are not adequately compensated by the provider undertaking not to test them on it. It is reasonable to expect providers to make some attempt to make up for what has been missed, but this doesn’t have to be like-for-like replacement teaching hours. Until the settlement offer was made, the University had not considered how to make up for the lost learning opportunities. The settlement offer had come too late for this student.

We recommended that the University offered to refund £339.29 of the student’s tuition fees. This was based on the notional cost of the teaching hours missed, reduced by 50%, taking into account that higher education providers have to provide and maintain buildings, IT and library facilities, wellbeing and other student support and administration.