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Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Act 2022

Part 5: Learner Protection, Complaints Procedures and Learner Engagement

Section 126: Learner protection plans

387.This section enables the Commission to give notice to a tertiary education provider asking it to submit a learner protection plan to the Commission on or before the date specified in the notice.

388.A learner protection plan is defined by subsection (2) as a document that sets out the provider’s arrangements to protect the interests of its students who are on courses that cease to be provided or who wish to transfer to another course.

389.Where notice has been given under this section, the requirement to have a learner protection plan in place and to give effect to it will be enforced (in the case of registered providers) through conditions of registration (see section 31), and otherwise through the terms and conditions of funding (see sections 90, 99 and 104).

390.This section also enables the Commission to approve the learner protection plan with or without modifications. It requires a tertiary education provider that wishes to amend its approved learner protection plan to send a revised plan to the Commission and allows the Commission to approve the revised learner protection plan with or without modifications.

391.The Commission is required to issue guidance on the preparation and revision of learner protection plans and is required to consult with such persons as it considers appropriate before issuing this guidance.

392.The Commission is required to monitor the effectiveness of learner protection plans and must include its conclusion in its annual report (prepared under paragraph 16 of Schedule 1).

393.Subsection (10) defines a “relevant course” and a “tertiary education provider” for the purposes of sections 126 and 127.

Section 127: Complaints procedures

394.This section requires the Commission to take such steps as appear to it appropriate to ensure that a tertiary education provider (as defined) has in place a procedure for investigating complaints about an act or omission of the provider, made by persons who are undertaking or have undertaken relevant courses (as defined), and to take reasonable steps to make the procedure known to persons undertaking relevant courses. The Commission might, for example, consider that an appropriate step was the issuing of guidance about complaints procedures, or the imposition of a registration condition or a condition of funding relating to complaints procedures.

Section 128: Qualifying institutions for student complaints scheme

395.This section makes amendments to Part 2 of the Higher Education Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) in relation to the student complaints scheme. Under Part 2 of the 2004 Act a body designated by the Welsh Ministers operates a student complaints scheme, which must provide for the review of qualifying complaints against qualifying institutions made by their students or former students. Section 11 of the 2004 Act sets out the qualifying institutions that are subject to the scheme.

396.This section amends section 11 of the 2004 Act so as to allow the Welsh Ministers, by regulations, to specify additional qualifying institutions. The regulations will be able to specify registered providers or other providers in receipt of funding from the Commission under certain provisions of the Act. Section 12 of the 2004 Act is also amended so as to extend the definition of qualifying complaint to those made by persons who are undertaking, or have undertaken, courses funded by the Commission under certain provisions of the Act, and to enable the designated operator to determine as qualifying complaints ones made by those persons on a particular course or particular description of course.

Section 129: Learner Engagement Code

397.This section requires the Commission to prepare and publish “the Learner Engagement Code” about the engagement of leaners in the making of decisions. “Relevant decision” and “relevant provider” are defined in subsection (9). An illustrative list of what the Learner Engagement Code may include provisions about is found at subsection (2).

398.The Commission must keep the Learner Engagement Code under review and if appropriate must prepare and publish a revised code. The Learner Engagement Code may take the form of a requirement or guidance. The Commission must consult with any persons they think appropriate when preparing the Learner Engagement Code or revised code.

399.The Learner Engagement Code may make different provisions for different purposes.

400.Compliance with the requirements of the Learner Engagement Code will be enforced (in the case of registered providers) through conditions of registration (see section 31), and otherwise through the terms and conditions of funding (see sections 90, 99, 101 and 104).

401.The Commission must monitor compliance with the Learner Engagement Code and include conclusions as to how effective the Learner Engagement Code has been, as part of its annual report.

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