Case Summaries

Back to Case Summaries

Industrial action - CS051910

A student was on a part-time BA programme at the time of the industrial action. They complained to the University about the impact of the industrial action on their studies and asked for a refund of tuition fees.

The student said that the University had failed to deliver the service that they expected; that the University had unreasonably tried to limit liability with a force majeure clause; and that it didn’t minimise the impact of the strikes on assessments.

The University said that to minimise the impact of the industrial action:

  • students were told that examiners would mark assessments with an awareness of the disruption caused to learning. The University said that it would give students the benefit of the doubt when assessing answers for topics that were most affected by the strikes
  • a variety of open workshops were offered to students in the summer term
  • additional academic support sessions were arranged on weekday afternoons
  • additional revision sessions were arranged for modules affected by the strikes
  • cancelled lecture materials were made available online
  • students were offered the opportunity to sit in on modules they had missed in later years.

The student complained to us and asked for a refund of tuition fees for the lectures and seminars cancelled due to the strikes.

We decided the complaint was Not Justified.

We decided that the University had demonstrated that it had taken reasonable steps to minimise the impact of the disruption caused by the strikes. The University recognised the academic impact and the missed learning opportunities and had taken practical steps to remedy both.

We were concerned that the scope of the University’s force majeure clause, which sought to limit liability for any disruption caused by industrial action, was too wide. But we were satisfied that the University did not simply reject the student’s complaint on these grounds. The University reasoned that although teaching had been affected, it had taken practical steps to make up for the impact of lost teaching opportunities.