Under consideration PE2000: Ensure universities are held accountable to students under consumer law

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to ensure universities are held accountable to students under consumer protection law by extending the remit of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman or creating a new body, similar to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, which could enable students to access redress without the need for court action.

Previous action taken

I previously lodged petition PE1769. This petition was closed in December 2020, with the Committee suggesting I submit a petition in the new parliamentary session.

Background information

My previous Petition PE1769 was submitted to investigate why higher education is not being fairly applied to every student. In the past 5 years, students have had content cut from their courses, feedback is limited or not provided, and assessments adversely impacted disadvantaging the student.

Students, especially self-funders, are paying for their education, and the SPSO is not equipped to deal with these types of complaints, leaving students to seek redress through the court system. The SPSO has stated that improvements could be made but it is beyond their remit to fully investigate these issues. This is patently unfair, and no one is currently demanding the taxpayers’ money back even when services have not been provided.

Where strikes have been the cause, universities keep both wages and fees, essentially being paid double for non-provision of services to students. With funding coming directly from universities, students unions may not be in a position to stand up for students.

The non-provision of service means graduates are leaving without the education or skills required to successfully join the workforce.

  • Created by Dr Marie Oldfield
  • Considered from 5 January 2023

This petition is now under consideration by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee

Find out about the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee’s discussion of this petition

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