Sussex Uni refunds students £96k after complaints about course quality

Students on the journalism course complained after finding out their course wasn’t accredited

Journalism students at the University of Sussex have been refunded a total of £96,500 following a dispute over whether the course would be accredited by a professional body.

With students paying up to £9,250 on yearly tuition, a survey of universities by The Express revealed dozens of cases where students alleged grievances about their course. The complaints varied from those about specific lecturers whilst others claimed entire courses had been ‘mis-sold’ to them, or that significant elements of the course had been changed post-enrolment. 

Sussex Uni paid out £500 to every journalism student last year, because the Sussex undergraduate journalism course “failed to meet industry standards” and so is not “properly accredited” meaning students would be lacking an NCTJ or BTCJ qualification, which is essential for a career in journalism.

Last year when the £500 compensation was announced the University of Sussex also offered to enrol the journalism students onto an NCTJ-accredited course free of charge.

Elsewhere in the UK, students at Teeside University were refunded a total of £35,906 over complaints of reduced timetables and mis-advertisement of course content; a student of Oxford also received £15,252 over inadequate supervision after their original tutor left. 

A Campaign for Real Education official Christopher McGovern said “Too many students are getting a rough deal. They deserve much better”. Liverpool Hope University also refunded £36,720 covering a case where the university was said to not have the correct equipment. The University of Derby similarly refunded £23,027 to 12 students and a group on the MSc Forensic Toxicology course at Bournemouth University was refunded £16,666 after they complained a key teaching member retired. 

Overall, the study found there were at least 279 payouts in the past two years alone accumulating more than £700,000. However, this sum is likely to be underestimated as some campuses failed to provide information and others declined to give details citing data protection laws. 

A spokesperson for Universities UK told The Express the latest data showed 84 per cent of students are satisfied with the quality of teaching, and 83 per cent with the quality of their course. They expressed “Universities are committed to supporting students to reach their learning objectives through high quality programmes of study”