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OFT letter (Feb 2014) and debts

Disclosure date: 4 April 2014

Reference: FOI2014/040

Request

1) Please confirm you received a letter from the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) in February 2014 asking you to review your rules and regulations, terms and conditions and practices in light of their views outlined in their report into how universities treat consumers. In light of receiving this letter (which was sent to all universities across the UK) is your institute reviewing the rules and regulations that may ‘breach’ consumer law, according to the OFT?

2)  Under your institute’s current rules and regulations, terms and conditions or practices, are undergraduate or postgraduate students prevented from graduating if they still owe non-tuition fee debt? If so how many, if any, students have been stopped from graduating in the last fifteen years?

3)  How much non-tuiton fee debt is currently owed to the institute?

4)  What is the biggest contributor towards non-tuition fee debt? E.g Library fines.

5)  What is the most amount of non-tuition fee debt incurred by one student?

Response

1) Yes we did receive this letter and we have considered the OFT's report. We will be reviewing our policies during the summer and implementing any changes for the 2014/15 academic year.

2) Our current Regulations do allow us to withhold academic awards from students who are in debt to SOAS, but no student has failed to graduate because of debt in the last 5 years. As far as SOAS is aware, there have been no cases of this kind in the last 15 years, but we do not have records to confirm this.

3) As at 21 March 2014: £720,786.78.

4) Library and related.

5) £2,041.50