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The Student Contract: ''CMA'' Implications of Fees and Charges

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings


Welcome to the sixth in our series of fortnightly Student Contract: ''CMA'' Implications ebriefs for universities, colleges and private providers. These ebriefs highlight aspects of the application of consumer law to the student contract which pose challenges for the tertiary education sector.

This time we focus on the implications of tuition fees and charges.

Information on the tuition fees payable under the student contract must be provided to students, prior to the student contract being entered into, in a legible, transparent and prominent way in order to avoid those fees being assessed for “fairness” under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

As such, institutions should ensure that relevant documents (including fees policies) are compliant with these requirements in order to benefit from the exemption. It is important that information about fees is sufficiently prominent and transparent and, on this basis, information about fees should generally be limited to one section/document.

As a minimum, prior to entering into the contract, the student should be provided with a clear breakdown of the tuition fees payable in each year, the total cost of the course and any other likely mandatory costs. The risk to the institution of not doing this is that a student may then only need to pay a “reasonable” price for the programme, and this could be determined to be a lower amount than an institution actually wishes to charge. It is also helpful to consider what non-mandatory charges may be incurred over the duration of the programme, to provide a more complete picture of what the student may expect over that period.

Whilst in some cases determining the exact costs over an extended period may be difficult in practice, at the very least a ball-park figure should be given so that the student can fully understand his/her entire financial liability for the relevant programme, should he or she decide to conclude a contract with the institution as opposed to one of its competitors.

Next time - The Student Contract: “CMA” Implications of Variation

Eversheds Sutherland has a wealth of experience advising on student contract / “CMA”-related issues in the HE and FE sectors. If you would like to discuss how Eversheds Sutherland may assist you in managing any of the issues addressed above (or any other student contract/consumer related issues) please contact Siân Jones-Davies or Eve England.