Competition and Markets Authority Compliance
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Although consumer legislation is longstanding, the Competition and Markets Authority has been taking an increased interest in Higher Education over the last few years. Its stance has been to make public (and therefore potentially reputationally harming) interventions when an individual institution's behaviour or terms and conditions are drawn to its attention.
The CMA also encourages individual stakeholders to press claims where terms and conditions, or the application of those terms and conditions, are perceived to be unfair. CMA compliance is an ever growing area: the recently redefined Key Information Sets means that there is more emphasis on institutional self-regulation - and therefore more scope for CMA intervention.
The CMA has made several principles clear - particularly that prospective students should be aware of all relevant facts before deciding whether or not to accept an offer of a university place; that those facts should be accessible; that there should be any perceived imbalance in power in universities' dealings with students; and that enforcement action for non-payment must be relevant to the debt to which it relates i.e. that academic sanctions cannot be used to enforce or encourage the payment of debts incurred for non-academic services.
Universities can benefit from Uniac's extensive experience in assessing CMA compliance.