OfS getting tough on universities and other HE providers

The Office for Students (OfS) reported that it is consulting on a new targeted condition of registration that would allow it to intervene more quickly in cases where universities or colleges are at material risk of closure. This move is in recognition that with the number of registered and other provider providers now standing at 396 there is a significant risk in the current environment that some may face financial pressures and cease trading altogether. Some institutions were already showing signs of financial stress and the emergence of coronavirus has, for some, increased the risk to their financial viability.

The OfS has therefore reacted to these increased risks, highlighting that they could impact students, and has set out proposals to help ensure the protection of students on an ongoing basis, both during and after the pandemic. The proposals require universities and colleges to comply with specific measures including:

  • “continuing to teach existing students before closing
  • making arrangements to transfer students to appropriate courses at other universities and colleges
  • awarding credit for partially completed courses and awarding qualifications where courses have been completed
  • offering impartial information, advice and guidance to students on their options and next step
  • archiving records so that students can access evidence of their academic attainment in the future
  • enabling students to make complaints and apply for refunds or compensation where appropriate”.

Universities and colleges that are not financially at risk would not have to take additional action to satisfy these new conditions of registration.

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