University Debt Policy
After receiving contact from a number of students seeking advice on the University’s debt policy we began discussions and negotiations with the University’s finance office and senior management in 2012.
This led to the University implementing a £250 debt threshold which permitted students to re-register, obtain exam results, maintain library access and continue their studies whilst debts remained at this level and below. This minor alteration to the policy helped numerous students whilst the financial impact on the University remained minimal.
Unfortunately this threshold was revoked by the University, without further discussion or notifying the SRC, at the commencement of the 2013–14 academic year. Coincidentally in July 2013 the Office of Fair Trading instigated a UK-wide investigation into Universities terms and conditions and in particular the debt sanctions applied for non-academic debt.
The SRC provided extensive evidence and information to the OFT to assist with their investigation, including a legal opinion provided by a local law firm which supported our view that the University’s existing debt policy was in breach of several pieces of consumer legislation. The OFT published their findings in February 2014 and we were pleased that their report found that any University imposing academic sanctions on a student for non-academic debt were in breach of the Enterprise Act 2002 and several other pieces of consumer protection legislation.