UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (National): Student charters to help students get the most out of higher education

Press Release   •   Feb 18, 2011 09:53 GMT

Universities should develop charters setting out students’ rights and responsibilities, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said today.

The Government today received the final report from the Student Charter Group. It provides a good practice toolkit for universities and students' unions to develop charters at an institutional level.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“Too many universities still don’t have a charter. Improving student information is a key priority for the Government. Students have a right to know how they will learn, how they will be supported and what they need to do themselves to reach their potential.

“At a time of significant change in higher education students have increased expectations of their university experience. I want a system where students have real choice and universities respond to what students need.

“Institution-specific charters will provide better information and increased transparency. Universities should use the good practice identified in this report to review the information which they currently provide.”

David Willetts paid tribute to the Group which was led by NUS President Aaron Porter and Oxford Brookes vice-chancellor Professor Janet Beer.

The Government will consider the Group’s report during the development of its strategy for higher education, which is to be set out in the forthcoming White Paper.

Professor Janet Beer said:

“Higher education is fundamentally about a partnership between HE staff and students – a collaborative approach is the key to student success. We have found that charters which are living documents - jointly developed by staff and students, and kept up to date - capture the essence of how such partnerships can work. Student charters do this by providing an accessible summary of staff and students’ responsibilities and rights, and clear signposts to greater detail at course level.”

Aaron Porter said:

“Students have the right to know what their university will provide and what they need to do to make the most of their time in higher education. We believe that jointly owned student charters will help students to understand what they can expect and what to do if their experience doesn’t match up to those expectations. The next three years will be a very challenging time in the sector, and we believe that it is in everyone’s interests to invest now in establishing good partnerships between students’ unions and higher education institutions. These charters will form one crucially important part of a much wider range of policies and initiatives that will be needed to cope with the implications of the new funding regime.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Student Charter Group final report is available athttp://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/higher-education/docs/s/11-736-student-charter-group.pdf. It is also being published on UUK, NUS and GuildHE websites.
  2. The terms of reference for the Student Charter Group are available atwww.bis.gov.uk/student-charter.
  3. UUK and Guild HE surveyed members about their use of student charters. Sixty per cent (60%) of respondents in England reported that they have a student charter, agreements or contract currently in place.

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