Which? response to the OFT’s report on higher education

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said:

“We’ve found worrying signs the HE market is not working to promote value for money for students, and evidence of students lacking key information about the academic experience. The Competition and Markets Authority must take swift action to tackle these issues.

“With fees now almost triple what they were two years ago, and the cap on student numbers soon to be lifted, it’s more important than ever there is adequate protection in place against poor standards, and especially if a university closes.”


  • Which? research has shown that students are not getting any more value for their money, as contact hours have remained the same, average study time remains well below that recommended by the regulator, and there are significant variations in the amount and type of teaching and feedback students get studying for the same course at different institutions.
  • We are calling for better information about academic study to be provided by universities. Prospective students should be able to compare the amount and type of scheduled contact time they receive, as well as the amount of private study they will be expected to do. We want the Government to ensure that the Key Information Set (KIS) includes this information as soon as possible. In a snapshot study, Which? found that only two out of 20 institutions’ websites provided information on the total number of contact hours per week, and even this was not broken down by lectures or tutorials.
  • Which? research has previously found a third of students (32%) say they might have chosen a different university course if they had known more about the academic experience, with a fifth (21%) saying that information from universities was vague and one in ten (9%) that it was misleading.