Student complaints rise by a fifth

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Students increasingly see themselves as consumers demanding value for money, says watchdog // Students increasingly see themselves as consumers demanding value for money, says watchdog
Students increasingly see themselves as consumers demanding value for money, says watchdog
Student complaints against universities rose by a fifth last year and are expected to accelerate after tuition fees triple to up to £9,000, according to a watchdog.
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) said it received 1,605 complaints about institutions in England and Wales in 2011, a 20% increase on the previous year.
It added that there had been a 200% increase in complaints submitted since the system was formally set up in 2005.
OIA chief executive Rob Behrens suggested that the dramatic rises are down to the adjudicator becoming more well-known, and students seeing themselves more as consumers demanding value for money. With the introduction of tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year, the trend is expected to continue.
Mr Behrens said a 20% increase was not out of line with predictions for last year. In total, the 1,605 complaints received represented only 0.07% of students, he said.
"It is still very small, with large potential to grow," said Mr Behrens. "The scheme has become better known each year. The debate about the fees and the White Paper has taken place in the last year and has heightened students' awareness of their rights as consumers."
The grievances cover everything from issues over a student's academic status to discrimination, disciplinary matters and misconduct. The number of complaints relating to academic misconduct, including plagiarism, has doubled since 2008, the report says, although the numbers remain small.
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