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1. An assessment of the range of risks to the continuation of study for your students, how those risks may differ based on your students’ needs, characteristics and circumstances, and the likelihood that those risks will crystallise


The University manages risks very carefully through its risk register which is developed by the University’s managers and scrutinised and approved by University Council members. The risk register states that the University has a comprehensive approach to risk management that seeks to identify key corporate risks and remedial strategies to address these risks. Critical comparison with other higher education institutions indicates that the University’s practices in this important area are well developed and firmly embedded.

The Key University risks within the overarching categories of Strategic, Financial and Operational are all within the University’s accepted risk range for the University to maintain its normal operation and deliver on its commitment to ensure that students are taught out to completion of their course.

The risk that the University as a whole is unable to operate is extremely low. Loss of degree awarding powers or university status is very unlikely and the University has a strong financial position and track record of financial strength. All assessments of the University by HEFCE have been ‘not at higher risk’. The University’s auditors have always agreed the financial statements without qualification. The University has always fully complied with all requirements, covenants and conditions set by lenders.


The University also considers the risk that provision cannot continue at any of its three campuses (Chester, Warrington and Shrewsbury) to be very low. The University monitors the performance of each campus. Chester and Warrington are long established sites and Shrewsbury is in its development phase which it is planned will lead to independence in the next decade. The development is a partnership with Shropshire Council and supported by other stakeholders and civic society in Shropshire.

Subjects and Courses

The University does not consider it likely that any subject areas will cease to be delivered.

Individual courses within subject areas are reviewed to ensure the university’s offering remains current and it is possible that there may be individual courses which cease to recruit new students. Existing students proceeding as normal on such courses would always be taught to completion of their course. The University’s planning procedures include the planning of such arrangements as part of the internal authorisation to cease courses.

Loss of UKVI Tier 4 Licence to Sponsor International Students

The risk to international students of the University arising from loss of its Tier 4 sponsor licence is assessed as low. The University has rigorous procedures for the issue of sponsorship which are enacted by its International Office and are subject to detailed scrutiny by the University’s Compliance Office which also monitor the University’s performance in relation to the Tier 4 sponsorship conditions. This is subject to regular internal audit by the University’s externally contracted internal audit service. A UKVI audit in 2015 reviewed compliance with sponsorship duties. Annual Basic Compliance Assessments have been passed and UKVI core requirements have been found to have been met.    

Loss of Key Staff

As a large provider of taught programmes the University ensures through its business planning and quality processes for Faculties that there is appropriate staffing in place to deliver the curriculum. The University’s management of its large staffing complement means that the loss of individuals can be managed in both the short and longer term to ensure students’ continuation of studies.

In accepting Research Students, the University has in place policies to ensure that at the point of accepting students there is an assessment that the student could be supported through a loss of a member of the supervisory team. This would normally be through a replacement from within the University, but may include a continuation with a current supervisor as an external supervisor, or other external arrangements.

Loss of Facilities

The University’s significant estate and buildings and its strong financial position mean that the risk that it might close or lose use of any building and also then not be able to provide a suitable facility in a nearby location is very low.

Loss of Professional, Statutory and Regulatory (PSRB) Accreditation

The University works in partnership with Professional Statutory Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) and has a long and successful track record of securing and sustaining accreditation for its programmes. There is therefore seen to be a very low risk of the loss of accreditation. In the event that an accreditation was lost, the University would work with the PSRB to secure the option wherever possible to teach out current students with no impact to their accreditation.

Provision Delivered by Partners

The University manages relationships with partner providers proactively and monitors quality assurance and similar matters closely. The University seeks to ensure through the contractual arrangements with partner providers that partners provide similar levels of protection to students. Where partner delivery is via a sub-contractual arrangement the University will ensure that the protection detailed in this plan is provided.

2. The measures that you have put in place to mitigate those risks that you consider to be reasonably likely to crystallise

As described in section 1 the University does not consider any subject areas or campuses to be at any foreseeable likelihood of not continuing.

The University is currently addressing planning issues relating to Thornton Science Park, which accommodates the provision delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering. The University is confident of a successful outcome and pending this resolution has also been able to pledge to students and applicants that “Should there be a need to relocate any of the Faculty's activities in the future, suitable arrangements will be made to do so at an appropriate teaching facility. It is important to understand that the Faculty, and current academic programmes, will continue regardless of location and that while the legal process is underway, teaching will operate at Thornton Science Park as normal.” In order to ensure this the University has set up a task group to ensure that appropriate facilities could if necessary be put in place within the locality of Chester. The University has issued information for applicants and students which can be seen here.

The University’s planning processes include consideration by a group of senior staff of all proposals for new courses and the withdrawal of existing courses. These arrangements are designed to ensure that the University brings on new courses which are sustainable and will continue in the future. As curriculum evolves there are occasionally courses which are withdrawn. The University’s procedures include the requirement that teaching arrangements are in place to ensure students are able to complete their course in the normal timescales.

The University is committed to ensuring that if any course ceases for any reason that current students are taught out over the normal timespan of their course.

3. Information about the policy you have in place to refund tuition fees and other relevant costs to your students and to provide compensation where necessary in the event that you are no longer able to preserve continuation of study

The University of Chester is committed to ensuring that if it makes any changes to the portfolio of courses it delivers it will ensure that arrangements are in place to teach out students progressing normally through those courses. The University does not foresee at this time the likelihood of any circumstances where this would not be the case.

Were there to be any unforeseen circumstance leading to the University not being able to preserve continuation of study, then the University would consider such a case on its individual merits and look to offer ways of mitigating the situation through, for example, alternative provision within the University or provision at another provider. Where such mitigation caused any additional cost for the student(s) in terms of travel, fees, additional years of study or any other demonstrable additional expense, then the University would ensure such additional expense did not result in loss to the student(s).

4. Information about how you will communicate with students about your student protection plan

We will publicise our student protection plan to current and future students on our website and in our prospectus.

We will ensure that staff are made aware of the implications of our student protection plan when they propose course changes through our meeting structures and by incorporating reference to it in our procedures.

We have consulted the Chester Students’ Union (CSU) on the content of our student protection plan. We will review the content of the plan annually in consultation with the CSU.

We will inform our students if there are to be material changes to their course, first by giving affected students as much notice as we reasonably can in open meetings of affected cohorts and in writing. We will then take students’ views in response into account and take reasonable steps to minimise any significant adverse effects.

In the highly unlikely event that we need to implement the measures in our student protection plan we will support students collectively and individually by giving them as much notice as we reasonably can, taking their views into account and taking reasonable steps to minimise any significant adverse effects by implementing appropriate actions, including, for example, through alternative provision within the University or at another provider and the additional action specified in section 3 above.

Again, in the highly unlikely event that we need to implement the measures in our student protection plan, we will ensure that students have access to independent advice from the CSU, supported by the resources of the National Union of Students.