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:

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.

Minor access agreement breaches

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.

List of access agreement breaches and how they have been resolved

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.