Complaints by students against universities in England and Wales have increased by 20%, according to the official adjudicator. This is the sixth consecutive year in which formal complaints have risen.
The report from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator indicates that heightened worries and confusion over issues regarding plagiarism have fuelled the complaints increase.
This set of figures is presented just months before the new academic year, which will see tuition fees increase to potentially £9,000 – when university students are expected to become even more demanding customers.
The vice president of the National Union of Students, Pete Mercer, called for more clarity over the rules surrounding plagiarism, heightening the problems that international students face inparticular.
“For new students, particularly those coming from abroad, what constitutes plagiarism can vary and proper training and picking up minor infractions early on can help students to know exactly what is expected of them.”
Not everyone is in agreement though. Just 16% of the 1,605 complaints were thought to be justified and acted upon, leading the president of Universities UK to say that “we are talking here about 224 complaints from a student population of 2.2 million students in England and Wales.”
Forecasters are already predicting that complaints will sky-rocket next year, once the tuition fee increase is first introduced. Sadly, if only 16% of all complaints are ever recognised – will these dissenting voices really be heard?