On the 1st October 2015, the Consumer Rights Act came into action making it clearer and easier to understand.
- what should happen when goods are faulty;
- what should happen when digital content is faulty;
- how services should match up to what has been agreed, and what should happen when they do not, or when they are not provided with reasonable care and skill;
- unfair terms in a contract;
- what happens when a business is acting in a way which isn’t competitive;
- written notice for routine inspections by public enforcers, such as Trading Standards; and
- greater flexibility for public enforcers, such as Trading Standards, to respond to breaches of consumer law, such as seeking redress for consumers who have suffered harm.
Students pay a hell of a lot of money to study. I pay around £9,000 a year. That makes me a consumer of education, right? Does that mean I have the right to complain if I am not receiving an adequate education?
Because complain I did. Am I wrong to have expected a certain standard for my £9,000? Wait, before I can ask you that question, I need to fill you in with the details.
Let me set the scene… A lecturer becomes ill half way through the semester, they replaced her with an external lecturer. In her introduction to her first lecture she explained she is not a statistician, which would have been fine, if she was not there to teach statistics. She explained she only got the slides a day before so ‘we would work it out together’ (she used this excuse regularly during our classes). We as a class, forgive her in this first lesson even though she mixed up a dependent and independent variable. However, as the weeks went on she continued to confuse things and answer all our questions with ‘probably or I think so’. I asked my course leader If I could move into the other group that had spaces, the same class but with someone who had a basic understanding of statistics. I was told no. But wait… as a consumer, not receiving the product, being education, was I not in my right to ask? Sadly, it gets worse… she was my group leader… this is where the monkey emoji hiding his face would be appropriate. For my essay draft meeting, I asked her two simple questions. 1. I need help on my scientific writing 2. I need help on my referencing. I was told 1. Don’t worry everyone is in the same boat 2. Just follow university guide lines. After this I boycotted her classes. I was not the only person to complain, all of her group complained and others just boycotted her classes. Sadly, the response we received at the beginning of the second semester was ‘people get sick, people cover, get over it.
Get over it. That was their final line on the education we received, for the £4,500 we paid, we were told to just ‘get over it’.
I do not accept that and neither should you. As students, we are getting ourselves in to a life time of debt for our chosen course. Do we not have rights? Do we just have to get over it when presented with an inadequate provider of education? No, we are paying for a service! We are consumers. Stand up for the education you deserve.
You might ask, well you did that and nothing happened? Maybe not this time but we created noise, we made it known we require a better standard. It is not much but it is enough to know I fought for my education.