The Honest Marketer

#CI2019 insights 
A summary of group discussions on consumer protection law compliance: what are universities doing to manage risk?

​Staff guidance: Most HEIs have detailed guidance and toolkits for areas such as branding, social media, GDPR, disclaimers, privacy notices, photography consent forms, key information sheets etc. but admit that they don't really know what occurs outside central services (typical within the sector).

Staff training: Training is important but difficult to manage as tend to train everyone in one batch. In relation to staff turnover and keeping up-to-date with new developments, it's up to individuals to pursue training.

Information giving: Marketers typically well-informed of risks but academics may be less understanding of the impact of misinformation when conducting interviews, open days etc.

Information changes: Annual review protocols tend to be well-established  but in-year changes are problematic once information has already been published, marketing and admissions are often the last people to know.

Repeated breaches: To demonstrate the scale of the problem, examples were shown of websites (institution and third party) chosen at random with information that may be in breach of guidance - in some cases by institutions already reprimanded - in relation to comparative claims, misleading data claims, unattributed survey findings and unfair T&Cs regarding non-academic debt.*

*Please note presentation slides showing website content potentially in breach of CMA/ASA guidance have been removed and are not for public distribution. It would be unfair to those featured since similar examples could be found on other HEI websites. 

OfS self-assessment

OfS requires HEIs to demonstrate how they comply  with consumer protection law and mechanisms used to monitor and ensure compliance.

  • What evidence do you have to demonstrate compliance?
  • Who is responsible for monitoring compliance processes and practice?
  • Where do you discuss and debate compliance issues?
  • How do you update and/or train existing/new staff in issues relating to compliance?
  • What audits/checks are done and how frequently to check your compliance measures are effective?
  • Where can staff access reliable, accurate and up-to-date information, facts and figures?

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