Office of Fair Trading to look into universitiesNews
The Office of Fair Trading has vowed to investigate universities to ensure they are offering value for money to their students.
The consumer watch dog wants to review universities to analyse the consumer rights and the competition between universities, to make sure that students are getting value for money. The decision comes after recent criticism of the university system in England and Wales.
More recently students are beginning to question the value for money they are receiving. Yesterday it was announced that the Universities Minister David Willetts wants to publish the amount of contact time that students receive and then to differentiate if that is large contact time, like a lecture, or closer contact time, like tutorials or seminars.
The Office of Fair Trading has began this review by asking for information from students, employers, governmental bodies and regulators to decide whether recent changes to the system have impacted positively on students and their value for money.
Further issues the Office of Fair Trading are having is whether the new regulatory system is creating healthy and effective competition. Toni Pearce, president of the National Union of Students told the BBC 'It would be useful to have an external view of what is working well, and in the best interests of students, and what may need some reform.'
Adding 'We would be particularly interested to hear what the OFT finds on issues NUS has campaigned on over many years, such as student access to information, including full transparency on teaching arrangements, complaints procedures, and means of redress if and when things go wrong.'
The Office of Fair Trading's Chief Executive, Clive Maxwell said 'Universities in England enjoy an enviable reputation across the world. We want to ensure that choice and competition between universities play a positive role in underpinning their success in future, and encourage students, universities, employers and others to respond to our call for information.'
The Head of Public Services at Which? Sonya Sodha said 'Our comparisons with previous decades show that today's students are working for fewer hours, are set less work and are receiving less detailed feedback.With increased tuition fees and a greater choice of universities and courses than ever before, it's essential that students can access better information about the academic experience on offer so they can see whether they are getting value for money.'
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