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Uni's legal threat in row with watchdog.

By Martin Shaw Assistant News Editor martin.shaw@examiner.co.uk THE University of Huddersfield has threatened legal action after a watchdog body accused them of breaching consumer law.

Consumer rights organisation Which? claims the university was one of three to be "consistently adopting unlawful practice."

Which? says the university failed to provide prospective students with "vital information" on its website such as up-to-date details on tuition fees.

Which? alleges that Huddersfield, Canterbury Christ Church University and Glasgow Caledonian University were "consistently adopting unlawful practice by failing to provide more than 30% of the information required."

After being contacted by the media about the allegations the University of Hudders-field consulted lawyers and issued a statement completely refuting the allegations. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published advice in March setting out how consumer law applies to the higher education sector including measures to ensure students could compare courses and make a fully informed choice.

But Which? said nearly two thirds (64%) of institutions failed to provide students with up-to-date information on course fees and four in five (80%) did not state or provide clarity on any extra fees students may have to pay to complete the course.

Overall it found 76% of the 50 universities it looked at are breaching consumer law by failing to provide prospective students with vital information.

The research was carried out between September 14 and 25, 2015.

Which? pointed out that with university fees averaging PS8,900 a year and student debt reaching PS45,000, deciding whether to go to university was the biggest financial decision many young people face.

In a statement the University of Hudders-field's legal firm Eversheds said: "The University of Huddersfield takes great exception to the findings of Which? "As regards the University of Huddersfield, the allegation that it is not compliant with a number of the CMA guidelines is completely false.

"The University is con-fident that it is fully compliant with consumer protection legislation in line with the CMA's advice. We strongly refute the allegations made."

The university complained to Which? and later Which? added a line to its official press release which said: "The University of Huddersfield have since told us that, as from the October 1 2015, they were fully compliant with consumer law."

The Examiner asked the university to explain that statement and a spokesman said: "You will have to ask Which? why they have said that. Our position is that we have always been compliant."

Which? stood by its research and a spokesman said: "While it's disappointing to see the reaction from a small minority of universities, we stand by our findings.

"Which? will continue to be the consumer champion, highlighting good practice and challenging bad."

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University of Huddersfield's Queensgate campus

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Oct 26, 2015
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