Value for money - what should providers do?

Consumer protection

Informed choice by students is essential in prompting providers to improve the value for money that they offer.

Good consumer information for students also helps them understand what they can expect from higher education.

What should providers do?

  1. Under consumer protection law, providers must give students clear, accurate and timely information about their course.
  2. As a condition of registration, a provider must demonstrate that in developing and implementing its policies and procedures, it has given due regard to relevant guidance about how to comply with consumer protection law (condition C1).

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance for higher education providers about how consumer law applies to them.

Their guidance suggests that providers should tell students about the number and type of contact hours, and expected self-study time.

It also notes that providers must inform students about the total costs of a course, including fees and any necessary additional costs. 

To comply with the law and the guidance issued by the CMA, providers must ensure that their contracts with students are clear, and that students are aware of surprising or important terms.

What does this mean?

We do not have the power to judge whether a provider is complying with consumer protection law – only a court can do that.

We identify concerns about consumer information through our own monitoring or information shared by the CMA and Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) and intervene when appropriate.

Published 07 January 2020

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