CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) Compliance Guidance
In 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published advice for higher education providers to help them comply with their consumer law obligations.
To comply, departments need to consider the impact that changes to programmes and modules may have on current and prospective students (applicants).
This page provides guidance and practical advice on when and how to inform, consult or seek consent from students when making changes.
|What changes I should consider||
If you are planning to make changes to a programme or individual module(s), it is essential that you consider the impact that this may have on both current and prospective students.
Changes may include:
Students must be either informed or consulted of any changes that they may perceive to mean that the course that they have applied to or registered on is substantially different to what they signed up to. However, students should be aware that optional modules may change from time to time and too reflect this fact the following statement is included in all programme regulations and the prospectus:
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of changes the University will consult and inform students in good time and will take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.
|When to inform||
If the changes made will only affect prospective students who have not yet been offered a place, departments should ensure that any marketing information has been updated to reflect the changes.
If any of the changes listed above have been approved after a prospective student has been offered a place (i.e. via UCAS) but before they become a registered student (i.e. at the registration event during intro week), the nature of the change should be communicated to them.
The following actions should be taken:
Please note, if the changes made will only affect prospective students who have not yet been offered a place, departments should ensure that any marketing information has been updated to reflect the changes.
|When to consult||
Where planned changes will affect current students (i.e. currently registered continuing students), departments should take the following actions:
The table below provides details of who should be consulted in each case:
The University is keen to take a pragmatic approach towards this activity. It is anticipated that if students are informed about the rationale and potential benefits behind any proposed changes, then there should be relatively few objections. In the situation where the majority of students object to a proposed change at programme level, then the Department should discuss and negotiate further with the relevant students. This might mean some compromise to the changes being proposed or in the case of extreme opposition a delay in implementation until the next intake of students.
|When to seek consent||
Consent should be obtained when changes are made ‘in-session’, i.e. a change in title that will affect students currently on the programme.
The University’s general principle is that any significant changes should be introduced for new cohorts of students. However, there will be occasions when changes need to be made which affect students already registered on the programme such as when a Professional Statutory Regulatory Body (PSRB) requests amendments to a programme with immediate effect.
In this situation, departments are expected to consult with their students and gain consent for the changes. Copies of consent should be kept by departments.
Academic Programmes Office, February 2019