Change happens by listening: the role of student feedback in reducing legal risk

This interesting blog about students as consumers and the rising number of complaints against universities
emphasised the benefits of seeking more feedback from students where their university experience may be lacking, in relation to lectures, facilities and accommodation. The suggestion is that seeking on-going feedback might avoid the problems of dealing with volumes of student complaints and claims and having to provide redress in a growing numbers of complaints.

The example is given of Royal Holloway, which has introduced “listening points” around its campus to encourage students to give their views on the university facilities to improve student satisfaction and reduce drop-out rates. Students are also encouraged to “text in” their feedback to the University about aspects of the campus and their University experience, another response to the growing digitalisation of student life and the role of technology in the student experience:

“By inviting students to send a simple text with their feedback they’ll be able to find out where they’re going right, or wrong – so if they don’t like the food in the canteen, this can be addressed, if the Student Union’s Saturday night offering isn’t up to scratch, they can re-think this, if there’s recurring problems with halls or residence, this can be recognised. Even better is that students can text in anonymously so they have the freedom to say whatever they like.”

This is an interesting use of technology to encourage students to give their feedback to universities and seems a proactive way to pre-empt and tackle the issues that students may have before serious questions of rights to redress, repeat performance, or to unwind arise. These remedies could prove expensive and difficult for universities to deal with and also bring negative and damaging publicity. So, it appears that the Royal Holloway example may be a useful tactic to improve the student experience by encouraging students to air their opinions to enable the university to correct issues. However, having asked for this early feedback it will be very important that institutions respond and address the concerns raised as failure to do so is likely to aggravate feelings of dissatisfaction. It will also be important to ensure that students are not so pressurised to provide regular feedback that this in itself compromises the quality of the experience.

Kiran Davegun
For and on behalf of SGH Martineau LLP
DD: 0800 763 1332
F: 0800 763 1732

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