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Student Protection Plan

UKPRN: 10007163

Legal address: University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7UW

Contact point for enquiries about this student protection plan: quality@warwick.ac.uk

The University of Warwick is committed to ensuring that it maintains a strong financial base and the infrastructure and staffing required to enable students enrolled on its courses to complete their studies. Where changes to resourcing or courses on offer are planned, the University’s priority will be to protect students’ interests and ensure that any changes are introduced in such a way as to enable students to complete their courses in a way which meets their expectations. Risks that students may be prevented from completing their courses for reasons of course closure or the University’s inability to deliver the courses are considered to be very low. The risk assessment and mitigating measures are set out below.

The University’s approach to changes to courses is set out in its Conditions of Offer for undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

The University’s approach to risk management is set out in its Risk Management Policy. The Council is accountable for ensuring that effective risk management is undertaken by the University across all levels of the University. Senate maintains oversight of academic risk, with other committees having responsibility for risks associated with the University Strategy and local departmental risks. The Operational Risk Management Group has responsibility for operational and compliance risk identification, analysis, evaluation and monitoring.

Risk Assessment and Mitigating Measures

1. Risk that the University of Warwick is unable to operate

The risk that the University of Warwick is no longer able to operate is negligible. The University has a track record of strong financial performance and has been able to fund an ongoing plan of strategic investment in academic provision, student services and infrastructure. We face the future from a position of financial strength, with good levels of cash and reserves and some capacity to borrow further if required. Our financial forecasts, which adopt planning assumptions that contain a sensible level of prudence, show future levels of surpluses that will enable the University to deliver its strategy, including the delivery of an outstanding student experience, on a sustainable basis. Financial risk is managed through risk assessment processes which ensures that risks faced by Warwick, and the sector as a whole, are appropriately mitigated thereby providing further assurance of the institution’s long term sustainability.

2. Risk that the University is unable to deliver courses due to closure of its sites

The risk that students will not be able to complete courses due to closure of individual sites is negligible.

The majority of the University’s courses are delivered on its main campus in Coventry. The University owns the land and buildings both on this main campus and our Wellesbourne campus near Stratford at which some research students are based, thereby providing absolute control over these assets. The University’s strong financial performance (see point 1) enables significant ongoing investment to be made to preserve and enhance our campuses.

Courses are also delivered at the University’s site at the Shard in London, for which the University has entered into a long lease providing certainty of ongoing access. These courses are delivered by our highly successful Business School. Teaching may also occur from other locations and arrangements are in place to ensure continuity.

3. Risk that the University is unable to deliver courses due to closure of individual buildings

The risk that students will be unable to complete their courses due to closure of individual buildings is highly unlikely.

The University is constantly investing in its infrastructure and, recognising that some buildings are ageing, the University’s Campus Masterplan and the Capital Plan sets out a planned programme of refurbishment and replacement of buildings. In these instances, processes are put in place to ensure that delivery of courses can continue.

The risk that students will be unable to complete their courses due to unplanned closure of buildings for emergency measures is also highly unlikely. The University has extensive Health and Safety policies and procedures, active fire risk management and an Estates’ utility resilience project to ensure that risk to buildings are minimised. When rare incidents do occur, the University’s Major Incident Plan is brought into effect; this is complemented by local business continuity arrangements. Should an unplanned closure occur, the impact on specialist teaching facilities would be higher and would be managed through business continuity plans.

4. Risk that the University is unable to deliver courses due to failure of IT infrastructure

The risk that students will be unable to complete their courses due to failure of IT infrastructure is highly unlikely.

The University uses external, well resourced, services with risk to the University’s IT infrastructure being managed through the institution’s risk register. The most fundamental aspects of core connectivity and core communications have Janet and Microsoft technology and resources underpinning them and provide the University with industry leading capabilities as well as very high levels of security management. Where there are internal connectivity needs the University has invested in high-quality equipment and services from the leading provider in the market. Our core teaching delivery tools are hosted at the University of London Computing Centre which provides stable and well managed services. Other services supporting teaching and education are run from cloud services so, again, reliance on internal facilities and any associated limitations in resource availability are mitigated. Ongoing investment in infrastructure is maintained to ensure continuity and quality of service.

5. Risk that the University is unable to deliver courses or that courses will be closed due to organisational restructuring

The risk that students will be unable to complete their courses due to organisational restructuring is highly unlikely.

The University has robust financial planning and monitoring processes; occasionally it is necessary to review activities which may lead to organisational restructuring and in these cases, there are established processes to ensure that delivery of courses to students, and particularly material components, can continue and impact is therefore minimised. Communications with students are a core component of this planning process. The process would involve the establishment of an oversight group to identify issues, manage risk and recommend courses of action with an attendant resourcing plan and the establishment of an implementation group to oversee and report on delivery.

The University has a Policy and Procedure on Discontinuation of Courses which covers approaches to communicating with current and prospective students and how current students would be supported. If the decision is taken to close a course, the default approach would be to teach courses out until all current students had completed their course. In the unlikely event that this were not possible, the University would explore alternative options in discussion with students, such as course transfer or transferring to another provider, and students would be supported through this process. No such organisational restructure of academic activities is currently planned.

6. Risk that the students will be unable to complete their courses due to concerns regarding academic quality and standards

The risk that students will be unable to complete their courses due to concerns regarding academic quality and standards, which may lead to imposition of sanctions by the Office for Students or loss of accreditation or recognition by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs), is unlikely.

The University has robust processes in place to oversee the design, approval, monitoring and review of its courses. Processes comply with the QAA Code of Practice and the HEFCE’s assessment of quality and standards matters for 2016/17 was that the University met requirements and no further action was required. Compliance with PSRB requirements is monitored through the University’s academic governance structures and additional investment has recently been made in this area to enhance this oversight.

7. Risk that courses will be closed due to curriculum review

The risk that students will be unable to complete their course due to curriculum review is highly unlikely.

It is expected that course curricula are reviewed regularly to ensure that the content and the skills that students acquire on their courses are up-to-date and relevant and the methods of delivery and assessment are most appropriate to deliver learning outcomes. New variants of courses may regularly therefore be introduced in phased and planned approach. The University’s approach to introducing changes to courses is set out in Conditions of Offer.

The University has a Policy and Procedure on Discontinuation of Courses which covers approaches to communicating with current and prospective students and how current students would be supported (see point 5).

8. Risk that the University is no longer able to deliver material components of courses

The risk that the University is no longer able to deliver material components of courses is unlikely.

The University is fully committed to delivering material components of courses; measures to ensure that this is the case will range from securing the necessary infrastructure (see points 2 to 4) to ensuring that staff with the appropriate skills are available to deliver key elements of courses. Core modules which deliver course level learning outcomes will typically cover topics which a number of staff would be able to deliver, or may be team taught. As indicated in point 5, the University has established processes in place to communicate with students in the event of proposed changes to courses which effect material components.

9. Risk that partners are no longer able to deliver franchised, joint, dual or validated degrees or are no longer able to support distance delivery courses

The risk that students will be unable to complete their courses as partners are no longer able to deliver franchised, joint, dual or validated degrees or are no longer able to support distance delivery courses is low.

The University undertakes due diligence when entering into a partnership which covers both academic quality and standards and financial probity. Once established, partnerships are subject to regular monitoring and review.

Contracts for such arrangements require all partners to take all reasonable steps to ensure that students registered on courses are able to complete them. If there are concerns about the quality of provision during this period, the University will work with the partner to identify options for completion of courses which may include transfer of students to the University in order to enable them to complete their courses in the original location of study or another study location or transfer to another provider.

The University is a partner in a number of joint Centres for Doctoral Training with partner universities based in the UK and also in joint research training programmes based in the EU. The risk that these students will be unable to complete their research degrees is highly unlikely as the programmes receive external funding.

Currently the University has three partnerships which are being discontinued and in all cases courses are being taught out to enable all students to complete their awards. The partnerships being discontinued are:

  • A franchise partnership with Herefordshire and Ludlow College
  • A distance delivery partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry
  • A validation partnership with Institut d’Études Supérieures
10. Risk that research students are unable to complete their degrees due to change in employment of supervisors

The risk that research students are unable to complete their degrees due to changes in employment of supervisors is highly unlikely.

Academic staff who have supervisory responsibilities, and who may hold research grants which provide studentships, may transfer to other universities, or may leave the University through other changes in personal circumstances. Co-tutelle arrangements may be at higher risk in such situations. The University’s priority will be to enable students to complete their degrees and an established approach is in place to identify the best arrangements for each student on a case by case basis, in dialogue with each student. This may occasionally include transfer of the student with the supervisor where feasible or the provision of an alternative, suitably qualified supervisory team at the University. The University’s Guidelines on the Supervision and Monitoring of Research Degree Students sets out the requirement that a team will be put in place for each research student to assist their supervisor, consisting of the Director of Graduate Studies, the student’s adviser/mentor/personal tutor, the second supervisor if one is appointed, and other members of academic staff who may be asked to train or advise the student in specific areas. The Guidelines also set out responsibilities with respect to changes in supervision including where the supervisor leaves the University or is absent for a period of time.

11. Risk that the University is no longer able to recruit or teach overseas students

The risk that the University is no longer able to recruit or teach overseas students is highly unlikely.

The University has robust procedures in place to ensure compliance with immigration legislation, covering admissions and procedures for current students. It consistently passes the annual Basic Compliance Assessment with excellent scores. Successive years of low visa refusal rates have resulted in the University being invited to be one of only 27 institutions to participate in the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme, which will streamline the visa process for taught postgraduate students.

12. Risk that apprentices will not be able to complete their degree apprenticeships

The risk that apprentices are unable to complete their degree apprenticeships where the University is the degree apprenticeship provider is unlikely. An assessment of the risks which may impact on the delivery of the degree are set out above. Should an apprentice’s employer cease to operate, the University is required to support the apprentice in finding an alternative employment.

Refund and Compensation

In the event that the University was unable to preserve continuation of study for students, it would seek to provide appropriate compensation to students. The University has established procedures for determining compensation and has Withdrawal Policies setting out the approach to refunds, available at https://warwick.ac.uk/services/academicoffice/finance/policies/. The University’s approach to award of compensation is in line with the OIA’s Approach to Remedies and Redress in terms of levels of compensation awarded (available here, p.12).

The University has in place insurance arrangements which cover compensation, subject to policy terms, where the University has been found to be liable to a Third Party, which may include students, for causing them financial loss. In cases where the University’s insurance would not cover the costs the University would meet the costs itself and the University’s cash and reserve levels are sufficiently robust to underwrite such cases.

Communication with Students

The Student Protection Plan will be made available online and communicated to students through handbooks and associated departmental webpages, through MyWarwick (the student web portal) and the MyWarwick newsletter. It will be included in the University’s Good Practice Guide on Information for Students, which is updated annually, and briefing updates for staff.

The Plan will be communicated to prospective students through the external facing Admissions webpage, alongside the University’s Admissions Statement.

Sabbatical officers of the Students’ Union will be consulted regularly on the development and updating of the Plan. For more significant changes further consultation with members of Student Staff Liaison Committees may also be undertaken.

The University has established procedures for consulting with students on planned changes and emergencies. Where changes are planned which may impact students, all students will be kept informed throughout the process, or consulted where there may be changes to material components to courses. Students would be able to raise concerns or queries with student course representatives or individually, through dedicated communication routes or face-to-face meetings.

In the event of emergencies impacting on students’ studies, communications would be immediate and managed through the University’s Major Incident Plan and local business continuity plans. Channels used to communicate to students would include the MyWarwick App.

22 June 2018