Universities accused of breaking consumer law

The report suggests that three in four universities are breaching consumer law. Picture: PA
The report suggests that three in four universities are breaching consumer law. Picture: PA
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THREE in four universities are breaching consumer law by failing to provide prospective students with vital information on their websites such as information about tuition fees and the contact hours they will have with staff, according to a report.

Which? said it found three institutions, Glasgow Caledonian University, Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Huddersfield, were consistently adopting unlawful practice by failing to provide more than 30 per cent of the information required when it investigated them in September.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published advice in March setting out how consumer law applies to the higher education sector, including measures to ensure information is available to students so they can compare courses and make an informed choice.

However a spokeswoman for Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) said the claims against it were “unsupported and defamatory”.

“Which? has gone far beyond the remit of a consumer affairs organisation by making stark, unsupported allegations of unlawfulness on the part of universities, including GCU,” she added..

“We recognise the need to continuously improve the information we provide in line with best practice but refute the claims of unlawfulness made by Which?.”

A spokesman for the University of Huddersfield said that it took “great exception” to the findings.

“The allegation that it is not compliant with a number of the CMA guidelines is completely false,” he said. “The university is confident that it is fully compliant with consumer protection legislation, in line with the CMA’s advice.

“We strongly refute the allegations made.”

Which? said nearly two-thirds of institutions failed to provide students with up-to-date information on course fees, and four in five did not state or provide clarity on any extra fees.