Insight event: Protecting students as consumers

This event explored the role of the Office for Students (OfS) and other organisations with responsibility for protecting students’ consumer rights.

Ensuring quality and value for money in higher education is at the heart of our work. This includes making sure students are protected as consumers.

This Insight event brought together a range of speakers to discuss student consumer protection issues in higher education. The event was an opportunity to hear from:

  • the OfS about our emerging approach to regulation of student consumer protection
  • the Competition and Markets Authority about its guidance
  • the Office of the Independent Adjudicator about patterns of student complaints.

Watch the event recording

Event slides

About the speakers

Lord Wharton was made a life peer in September 2020 and has been chair of the OfS since April 2021. He was elected as an MP in 2010 and served as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development from July 2016 to June 2017, and as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, with responsibility for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse, from May 2015 until July 2016. Prior to that he worked as a solicitor.

Susan Lapworth was appointed chief executive of the OfS in September 2022 following a period as interim chief executive. She was previously the OfS's Director of Regulation, responsible for developing and implementing the OfS's regulatory framework. She has spent over 20 years working in senior roles in a range of higher education providers.

Jo Nuckley is the Head of Outreach and Insight at the OIA. The OIA are an independent body responsible for reviewing students’ complaints. Jo leads a team with responsibility for sharing learning from the OIA's casework, and ensuring that casework is informed by the wider sector context. Since joining the OIA in 2006, Jo spent a number of years directly adjudicating on complaints, and as Head of the Adjudication Team and she retains responsibility for casework as a member of the casework quality group. Jo also has responsibility for data protection and knowledge management following an early career in information legislation at The National Archives. In her spare time, Jo is a school governor and runs a jigsaw library.

The CMA is the UK's competition regulator aimed at strengthening business competition. Gordon leads a team which is responsible for developing the pipeline of new consumer enforcement projects at the CMA as well as partnership working with other enforcers and consumer bodies. He has also been a director on a number of projects including the publication of compliance advice for businesses on cancellations and refunds due to coronavirus together with associated enforcement action, leading several enforcement cases against businesses in the PCR testing market, and producing the CMA' consumer law advice for higher education providers in 2015. 

Before joining the CMA, Gordon worked at the Office of Fair Trading where he held a variety of positions, including Director of Consumer Policy, and managed both policy and consumer enforcement projects. 

Emma is Global Marketing Director at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. She was previously Director of Marketing and Communications at Nottingham Trent University where she sat on the University Executive Team. 

She started her career in fashion and consumer public relations in 1988, working in tourism and destination marketing before she embarked on a career in higher education in 1997.

She was the Chartered Institute of Public Relations President 2019 and is a Lead Assessor for Chartered Practitioner status. A Founding Chartered PR Practitioner, Chartered Marketer and Chartered Manager, she has won a string of awards over almost three decades spanning public relations, marketing, innovation, fundraising, digital, and web. Emma holds an MBA and various public relations, marketing and management qualifications.

Nisha Arora joined the FCA in February 2018 and is Director of Cross-Cutting Policy and Strategy. Nisha's directorate is responsible for leading and coordinating policy that cuts across multiple financial services markets, as well as the FCA's policy profession. Nisha has overseen the development and delivery of the FCA's flagship Consumer Duty and its vulnerability guidance and led the FCA's response to coronavirus in retail markets. She is also responsible for the FCA's consumer research, insight and engagement, including the Financial Lives Survey. Nisha chairs the G20/Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Task Force on Financial Consumer Protection.

Prior to joining the FCA, Nisha held senior director roles at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), where she oversaw its consumer protection work, and at the Office of Fair Trading. At the CMA, Nisha held the Presidency of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network. Previously, Nisha served as a senior legal adviser in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Cabinet Office, having trained as a solicitor with Denton Hall. Nisha is a member of Thames Water’s Customer Challenge Group and an independent member of our Provider Risk Committee. 

Aimee is the current President of Education at York St John Students’ Union and has held this post since July 2021. Alongside this, Aimee is a student member of our Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) panel, a student ambassador for Rt Hon Justine Greening’s FindMyPurpose levelling up work and a volunteer Spanish tutor for York St John’s Community Language School. She also studies her part time MA in Education, with research interests in the international student experience and ‘lad culture’ within the higher education sector. 

About OfS Insight events

OfS Insight events draw on the knowledge and experience of higher education and other sector experts to promote debate and discussion of key issues in higher education regulation.

Insight brief: Protecting students as consumers

This event accompanied our latest Insight brief on protecting students as consumers.

Contact us

If you have any questions about this event, contact us at .

Published 11 May 2023
Last updated 20 June 2023
20 June 2023
Event slides and recording published
19 June 2023
Link to accompanying Insight brief added.
05 June 2023
Added event programme and speaker bios.
02 June 2023
Updated list of confirmed speakers.

Describe your experience of using this website

Improve experience feedback
* *

Thank you for your feedback