Clare College refuses to pay £3,000 compensation to a student it wrongly suspended

The compensation was recommended for the ‘distress and inconvenience’ caused for the student

Clare College has refused to pay £3,000 compensation to one of its students who it wrongly suspended, according to the most recent annual report from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).

The OIA, described on their website as “an independent body set up to review student complaints about higher education providers in England and Wales”, received a complaint from a student at Clare College about the College’s handling of  “a process leading to their suspension.”

The OIA decided the student’s complaint was “justified” because there was “insufficient information to support the College’s decision to suspend the student”, so the decision made by the College was “flawed.”

The OIA made two “practical recommendations” concerning the student’s return to study, and a third recommendation that the College should pay the student £3,000 for “distress and inconvenience.”

Clare College did not accept the OIA’s decision – it complied with the practical recommendations and the student returned to their studies, but it refused to comply with the remaining recommendation.

OIA have said that they explained to Clare College that, under the OIA’s “compliance protocol”, they report non-compliance with their recommendations to their board and in their annual report.

In December 2020, the College told the OIA that “it did not intend” to comply with the recommendation concerning compensation.

The OIA reported the College’s refusal to comply with their recommendation to their board in March 2021.

There have been five previous instances were a higher education provider has not complied with OIA recommendations, which have all been reported in an OIA annual report.

However, none of the five providers previously reported for not complying with an OIA recommendation refused to comply – in each case, the non-compliance was “either not deliberate or seriously delayed” and only two of those cases related to student-centred recommendations. This makes Clare College the first higher education provider in England and Wales not to comply outright with an OIA recommendation.

The OIA have said: “We hope that even at this late stage Clare College will reconsider its position and pay the student the compensation we recommended in recognition of the distress and inconvenience they have suffered.”

The University Press Office and Clare College have been contacted for comment. 

Feature image credit: N Chadwick, Creative Commons License