Governance: OfS and standard student contract templates

The Office for Students (OfS), which is the main regulator of higher education in England, has been asked by the Department for Education to consider options for setting out students’ consumer rights in the form of standard contract templates. In a letter to OfS dated 16 September 2019 and titled ‘Strategic Guidance to the Office for Students – Ministerial priorities’, the Education Secretary for England stated: ‘Working with partners such as the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education and the Competition and Markets Authority, as well as with other experts in the field, I would like the OfS to review the effectiveness of current practice ensuring students’ consumer rights are supported, and in particular to consider options for standard contractual templates setting out these rights.’ According to the letter, the OfS is asked to report its conclusions on the matter of standard contractual templates and make initial recommendations to the government by February 2020. Amongst other matters, the letter also proposes further reforms to the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF), stating: ‘…I would like the OfS to publish subject level TEF in 2021. This should be alongside the implementation of a new TEF model to be developed following the publication of the government response to the Dame Shirley Pearce’s Independent Review of TEE undertaken under Section Read Full Article…

Employment: NI Court of Appeal: reasonable adjustments and autism

In British Telecommunications PLC v Kevin Owen Meier [2019] NICA 43 the Northern Ireland (NI) Court of Appeal considered whether an employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments to a psychometric test in relation to a neuro-diverse job applicant. Mr Meier graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a 2.1 degree in computer science.  He has a high IQ.  He has Asperger’s Syndrome, dyslexia and dyspraxia.  During his educational career he had the benefit of note-takers for classes, scribes, a prompter, an Asperger’s mentor and extra time for examinations.  In March 2017 he applied for a job with British Telecommunications PLC (BT), who had advertised network design and engineering opportunities for graduates. BT is a member of the Disability Confident Scheme (DCS), which aims at helping organisations to employ and retain people with disabilities.  DCS members are expected to take active steps to attract and recruit applicants with disabilities, and to provide a fully inclusive and accessible recruitment process.  Under its ‘Guaranteed Interview Scheme’, BT guaranteed to interview any applicant with a disability whose application met the minimum criteria for the position.  ‘Minimum criteria’ meant ‘evidence in the application form which demonstrates that the (applicant) generally meets the level of competence required for each competence as well as meeting any of the qualifications skills or experience defined as essential.’ BT’s graduate Read Full Article…