Universities pay students hundreds of thousands of pounds each year … a Guardian investigation can reveal.
…The investigation reveals that at Thames Valley University, a total of £55,437 was paid out to students, while at the University of East Anglia and Cardiff University, £39,445 and £39,100 were awarded. Thames Valley’s sum mostly comprised payouts to nine students whose course was extended after a lecturer went on long-term sick leave. Cardiff said that the complaint “relates to academic supervision issues”. It said it could not divulge any more “for confidentiality and data protection reasons”. UEA said the complaint was about a registration issue.
Some of the country’s top universities also paid out tens of thousands of pounds to dissatisfied students. Exeter University awarded a total of £21,500 last year while Cambridge, Newcastle, Leeds and Oxford universities offered £16,200, £15,200, £15,000 and £13,260 respectively.
Kingston University paid out £19,881, Queen Mary, University of London, paid £15,300 and Goldsmiths paid £15,148.
…in 2008-09, the 60 universities awarded a total of £261,424.30 – three-quarters of the sum they paid out the year after. Universities that offered high total sums in compensation included Oxford at £49,584 and Loughborough, which gave out £37,300 to students to compensate for a loss of privacy and noise during building work near their bedrooms.
The largest single sum that went to a student in 2009-10 was £56,138.11 from the University of East Anglia. Newcastle University awarded £13,000 for “lack of academic support and supervision” to a postgraduate student who was delayed in completing a degree as a result. Surrey paid out £10,000 for mistakes with a student’s degree classification and Sussex awarded £8,000 to a postgraduate who had to change universities when their supervisor left shortly after the student arrived.
Before the introduction of higher tuition fees, universities were already paying substantial sums in compensation to complaining students and waiving tuition fees (Guardian, 27 December 2010). Behind those payouts lay substantial figures paid to the university’s lawyers. It seems likely that higher fees will lead to new patterns of complaint.
Who is going to pay for this?
Comments on the Guardian article:
I have just graduated from a degree course…. I’m not sure if I got what I paid for because there was no itemised contract with my provider outlining the service.
8 hours out of 30 hours lectures cancelled! plus every other module with cancelled lectures. etc etc ?
Universities making their own arrangements for indemnity insurance
or working with consortia such as the London Universities purchasing consortium (http://www.lupc.ac.uk/) Southern Universities purchasing consortium (firstname.lastname@example.org) do not necessarily to seek cover specifically for the costs of obtaining legal advice in connection with the handling of student complaints or to recover the cost of administrative time spent in dealing with such complaints or the cost of paying compensation or lost fees.
If the number of complaints rises in the new climate of student-led demand and proposals in Chapter 6 of the Browne Review are implemented in some form which means that students dissatisfied with the outcome of their internal complaints are encouraged to take it onward to a new regulator, the costs to institutions may rise significantly.
Are you covered?