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Response to Consumer Rights Bill amendment to mandate OIA subscription for designated providers

19 November 2014

Study UK, the leading association of independent education providers in the UK, has welcomed the news that the Consumer Rights Bill is to be amended to create a level playing field for access to the higher education ombudsman service, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). This amendment makes it mandatory for independent education providers with specific courses designated for student loans to subscribe to the OIA, bringing private colleges in line with public universities, which are already required to sign up to the OIA under the Higher Education Act 2004.

Study UK has long championed the need for consistent and robust protection of the interests of students and will continue to support its members to engage with and subscribe to the OIA. Paul Kirkham, Study UK Board Member and Chief Executive at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance said: ‘The independent education sector should welcome this amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill because it places independent providers on an equal footing with universities, with a collective, sector-wide obligation to meet the requirements of an OIA subscription. My organisation chose to subscribe voluntarily to the OIA because we believe it offers a valuable service in assuring students and other key stakeholders that we take student welfare and complaints seriously and we are committed to an accessible, open, transparent and independent process. That all designated independent providers will now be joining us in subscribing can only be a positive step for the education sector as a whole.’

In anticipation that a subscription to the OIA might become a requirement for designated providers, Study UK has been engaging with the OIA for some time to discuss the ways in which both its adjudication service and the developing ‘Good Practice Framework for Complaints and Appeals’ might be applied in the case of independent providers. We will therefore continue to work with both our members and the OIA to ensure that the published Framework is well-suited to the specific needs of independent education providers, large and small, to encourage its consistent adoption within the education sector. 

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