The consumer group Which? has published a report revealing that students are routinely subjected to unfair changes to their university courses.
These changes can occur after enrolment or even between years during a student’s degree. Which? found that 6 in 10 students have experienced course modifications such as changes to modules, location of teaching, or even their degree titles.
Even more worryingly, 12% of us students are said to have experienced an increase in tuition fees either part-way through an academic year or between years. As students can now be charged up to £9,000 per year, this has led to claims that the higher education system is turning into a consumer market.
Which? asserts that many of the London universities are guilty of unfair course changes (thankfully the report does not mention Royal Holloway specifically!). For example, King’s College is said to have provided unfair terms for course changes and London South Bank and UCL for varying tuition fees.
The report comments that consumer law needs to be applied more stringently to the higher education system as a matter of urgency. Which? suggests that the higher education sector needs to come together to create a standard consumer-friendly format for student contracts, but how likely this is in reality is questionable.
What does the future hold? As the higher education system appears to be increasingly at the mercy of consumer market shifts and competition, this surely cannot bode well for prospective students at Royal Holloway and other universities around the UK in years to come.