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Placement - CS032401

A postgraduate student enrolled on a two-year programme. The second year of the programme was an optional industrial placement. Toward the end of their first year the student successfully secured a placement and provided details to the programme’s placement team.

The student was then sent an invoice for their placement year fee. The student immediately queried the fee and went on to submit a complaint, asking for it to be waived. The student explained they didn’t know they’d need to pay a fee for their placement year until they received the invoice. The student also said that because the provider hadn’t given them clear information about the fee before they enrolled, it had not complied with guidance published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which sets out providers’ responsibilities under consumer protection law. 

The provider upheld the student’s complaint at the final stage of its Complaints Procedure. It acknowledged that information about the placement fee could have been clearer and offered the student financial compensation of £250 in recognition of this, but it did not agree to waive the placement fee. It also confirmed its website had now been updated. 

The student complained to us because they didn’t think the amount of compensation the provider had offered was enough. We upheld the student’s complaint (we decided it was Justified). We didn’t think the information available to the student about the placement fee met the requirements set out in the CMA’s guidance and the programme description was unclear. We also thought it was unreasonable for the provider to have taken the position that the student would always have been liable for the fee. Because the information was not made available to the student before they enrolled, they were unable to make an informed decision about whether to register and had no choice but to incur the fee. We recommended that the provider refund the placement fee in full and offer the student £750 for distress and inconvenience for the issues we identified with its handling of the complaint.