Today OFT has confirmed that University's practice to place an academic sanction on a student who holds a non-academic debt to the university is an unfair term and as such wouldn’t hold up in court.
For many years NUS and students’ unions have argued that the use of such sanctions is unfair, and that it breaches contract law. Universities have the normal means of debt recovery open to any other creditor and preventing progression or graduation serves only to make it more difficult for students to access student support or employment in order to settle their debts. The OFT’s report endorses that view and recommends that universities review their terms and conditions to ensure they are would withstand scrutiny in the courts; it has written to them to outline this view.
Colum McGuire, VP Welfare, said:
“I’m delighted to see that the OFT has responded to our complaints and confirmed that this practice is incredibly unfair, which is what NUS has been saying all along. This victory would not have been possible without the support from student officers and advisers in students’ unions across the country.
“Universities that prevent students with accommodation arrears or overdue library fines from obtaining their degree, or enrolling in another year of study now need to review their policies and put in place more sensible ways of helping students graduates pay off any debts.”
The full case summary is on the OFT's website here.
This is absolutely HUGE news, and something that has been on the radar of students’ unions for years – so getting this result today is incredibly pleasing and something that I know will make a huge difference to students in the future.
Source: NUS connect