Access agreement breaches
This page sets out how we deal with breaches of access agreements, and provides details of resolved access agreement breaches.
Major access agreement breaches
What is a major access agreement breach?
A major access agreement breach would occur if a university or college were to seriously and wilfully breach its access agreement. For example, if it were to:
- fail to deliver on commitments directed at promoting equality of opportunity with respect to access, student success or progression for an unsatisfactory reason
- refuse to deliver the support it promised to students
- be seriously negligent in its interpretation of the agreement, OFFA expectations, or related legislation and regulations
- intentionally charge higher fees than set out in its access agreement.
We would not consider a major breach to have occurred solely on the basis of a university or college not meeting the targets or milestones in its access agreement.
How would OFFA deal with a major breach of an access agreement?
If we suspect a major breach to have occurred, we will investigate. Click here for details of our investigation process
We have sanctions available to us that we may impose in the event of a major access agreement breach.
What is a minor access agreement breach?
A minor breach occurs when an institution – as a result of error – charges a tuition fee which is higher than that which has been approved and published in its access agreement, or when it does not pay financial support to students as set out in its access agreement.
How does OFFA deal with minor access agreement breaches?
From time to time, OFFA discovers or is alerted to a minor breach of an access agreement, often through our annual monitoring process. We work with institutions in order to resolve these.
Major access agreement breaches
There has not been a major access agreement breach. In the event of a future serious or wilful breach we will publish details of our actions.
Minor access agreement breaches
The table below shows where there have been minor access agreement breaches and how we have resolved them. We will update this log as future minor access agreement breaches are resolved.
Note: In all of these instances, where we refer to students being reimbursed, they have been reimbursed in full.
|Name of institution||Year identified||Academic year breach occurred||How was the breach discovered?||Type of breach||Description and final outcome|
|The College of North West London||2012||2010-11||OFFA monitoring||Fee charged above amount approved in access agreement||The institution applied an unauthorised fee increase of £1,095 to continuing students on a number of courses that was not approved in its access agreement. The institution reimbursed all eligible students.|
|City University, London||2013||2011-12||OFFA monitoring||Fee charged above amount approved in access agreement||The institution charged fees across various placement and year abroad courses that were above the amount approved in its access agreement. The university advised OFFA of its intention to review and if necessary adjust the systems and processes which led to the error. The institution reimbursed 227 eligible students.|
|Castle College Nottingham||2013||2011-12||OFFA monitoring||Non-payment of financial support||Thirteen students who were eligible for financial support of £360 did not receive a bursary. The institution subsequently paid bursaries to eligible students.|
|Worcester College of Technology||2013||2011-12||OFFA monitoring||Fee charged above amount approved in access agreement||The institution charged a fee that was above the amount approved in their access agreement. 124 students were reimbursed £50.|
|Somerset College||2014||2013-14||Contacted by student||Non payment of financial support||A number of eligible students did not receive financial support in the form of £10 printer credit. The total amount underspent on financial support for all students was £2,500. The institution consulted with its students and a decision was made to invest the money in a new set of lockers which would benefit all students.|
|De Montfort University||2014||2013-14/2014-15||Contacted by HESA||Fee charged above amount approved in access agreement||The institution charged a fee for one course that was above the amount approved in their access agreement. 118 students were reimbursed £150.|
|University of Central Lancashire||2015||2013-14||OFFA monitoring||Fee charged above amount approved in access agreement||The institution charged a fee for one course that was above the amount approved in their access agreement. 49 students were reimbursed the full overpayment of £7.50.|
|Staffordshire University||2015||2012-13/2013-14||OFFA monitoring||Fee charged above amount approved in access agreement||Three of the institution’s partner colleges charged fees that were above the amount approved in the institution’s access agreement. 63 students were fully reimbursed with sums between £50 and £360.|