Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Guidance; impact on ...

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Guidance; impact on ...

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Guidance; impact on student recruitment communications Communications and Marketing November 2017 What is the CMA? Competition and Markets Authority UK government department (non-ministerial) Regulates business competition in the UK and works to prevent anti-competitive activity Replaced former Competition Commission and Office for Fair Trading in 2014

Background (1) October 2015: New Consumer Rights Act (CRA) came into force CMA guidance published in March 2015 to help UK HE providers understand their responsibilities under consumer protection law Applies to the relationship between HE providers and prospective and current students Guidance applies to study at all levels Background (2) Guidance split into three parts: Information provision (material information)

T&Cs between HE providers should be fair Complaint handling processes should be fair and transparent Overall responsibility for UCLs CMA response resides with SRS Requirements for those involved in student recruitment comms relate to information provision. Material information should be: Timely (i.e. available to students at the time they are making their decision) Up-front, honest, no omissions Easy to find and accessible Covers visual and verbal information as well as

written What is meant by material information?

Programme Title Entry requirements, including UK and International qualifications Core and optional modules Programme Structure (what modules are studied in each year including year abroad) Method(s) of assessment for the programme Contact hours and workload The award to be received on successful completion

Location of study or possible locations Length of programme Whether the programme and provider are regulated and by whom Whether the programme is accredited

Any particular terms, such as those in the HE providers rules and regulations, that apply to the programme that students may find particularly surprising Total programme costs (Tuition fees plus extra costs, e.g. for fieldwork, extra equipment or materials, costs associated with year abroad) Information about the accessibility of learning support facilities such as library

opening times, the course timetable Details of modules that must be completed in order for the award to be accredited on completion of the programme Information for disabled students Qualifications of teaching staff Scholarships, bursaries, funding Help! The Prospectus cant cover all this for a variety of reasons: Some information is simply not available Some information always subject to change this far

in advance Problems gathering very detailed information Departmental/faculty websites often fill in the gaps, but not consistent. Improve co-ordination Communications mix Prospectuses ___________________ Prospectuses ___________________ Departments/faculties Changes made to Prospectuses Expanded guide to additional costs (equipment,

materials, travel/accommodation for fieldwork, etc) General disclaimer (with the help of Legal) Automated last updated field so currency of information can be judged Expanded fees field with clearer information about fee increases Expanded KIS explanation Accreditation field (in progress) Important to remember: The CMA document is guidance only setting out the requirements for compliance with consumer law as the CMA sees it. Not a substitute for the law itself, nor does it

replace the role of a court. Full implications & what is expected of universities will only become clear after the first test cases ideally these will not involve us. What happens if we dont comply? Could be subject to enforcement action by CMA/ASA/QAA Could be subject to legal action by students Serious implications for UCLs reputation Fines and potentially unlimited transfer and relocation costs if incurred by wronged student. Payable by department responsible. Audit of preparedness

Summary If involved in student recruitment, this is your responsibility to know and understand Embed advice and guidance in what you do and content you provide Key issues are: accuracy, transparency and timeliness UCL CMA website in development but cannot cover all situations. Further information CMA resources relating to student recruitment:

Student and Registry Services: Bella Malins is leading on providing departmental guidance and overall UCL policy: [email protected] - advice for HE providers (their obligations under the CRA) and students (their rights as consumers) UCL Legal Services

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