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Pregnancy, parenthood and childcare - CS072203

A student completed the first semester in the academic year before stepping off the course to have a baby. They discussed their return to study in advance with the student support team and planned to resume some of the year-long modules that they had begun.

Three weeks before the next academic year, the student was told that there had been changes to the course and some modules had been redesigned with different assessments, which meant that their planned module choices were no longer viable.  

The student complained that they were not given enough notice of the changes to the course structure. They also complained that incorrect information given to Student Finance England (SFE) about their registration and fees meant that the maintenance funding they received was lower than they were entitled to. 

The provider explained that because the student had originally been in a cohort that would complete the modules before the changes were made, they had not been told about those changes automatically. It also recognised that the student support team had not been told about the changes and so had provided inaccurate advice. It apologised for this but said that the student had enough time before the start of the academic year to decide whether or not to resume their studies on this basis. It offered them some different options for completing the credits they needed. 

The provider also explained how it had intended to explain details of their registration to SFE in a way that did not increase their fee liability or reduce their loan entitlement. It apologised for an error in the paperwork which meant the wrong information had been entered into the system. 

The student was dissatisfied and complained to us. 

We decided that the complaint was Partly Justified 

We noted that the provider had a comprehensive policy on student pregnancy, maternity and adoption and that it had put in place good support during the pregnancy. But the options available for this student on their return led to an uneven distribution of workload across the academic year and fewer opportunities to learn with their peers. The notice of the changes was not realistically long enough for the student to explore other options. Errors in the information provided to SFE had been corrected, after the student had spent time trying to resolve this. 

We recommended that the provider should apologise, and pay the student £1,000 in recognition of the distress and inconvenience caused. 

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