The LSA Student Protection Plan

This Student Protection Plan has been developed to provide you with assurance and peace of mind. It sets out what measures we have in place to protect our students, both enrolled and prospective, in the event that a risk to the continuation of your studies should arise. The type of event or changes that might cause such a risk are also detailed below.

This Student Protection Plan therefore provides current and prospective students with confidence that the London School of Architecture has minimised risks to your academic journey. This plan has been approved by our validating partner, London Metropolitan University (London Met/the University) and is available to all current and potential students.

The measures contained in this plan are in addition to the protections you have under consumer protection law, and do not impinge on your consumer rights.

Our commitments to you as a student

We commit to:

  • include student consultation and representation in the decision- making process to change, discontinue, or alter your course, or to cease operating all-together
  • being open and transparent with students should any risk to the continuity of your studies arise, and inform you in a timely manner
  • taking reasonable steps to protect your studies should we discontinue a course or discipline, close a location (building or campus) where a course is taught or close altogether
  • considering students’ views before deciding to implement any substantial changes to a course or discontinuing it, or stop teaching a discipline or closing a location
  • ensuring that we are adequately resourced in the event of any course, campus or institutional closure to allow you to complete any teach out which may be triggered by this plan
  • taking into consideration the needs of all our students and the impact on them of any proposed changes and protective measures
    informing the OfS, of any changes that may necessitate a review of the plan or any of the measures contained within it.
  • ensuring our website is updated to reflect changes to the programme
  • informing prospective students of programme changes

We will also seek students’ views on this plan as part of our annual student feedback processes. If you have any immediate views, concerns, questions or feedback in relation to this plan, please contact the Operations Director, Stephanie Rice, on stephanie@the-lsa.org.

Risk and Risk Mitigation

The LSA is a new, small, independent school founded as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) in 2015. Our Board of Trustees has responsibility for ensuring that the LSA adheres to the requirements of the Charity Commission as set out in our Constitution. Our Constitution can be found in the LSA Institutional Handbook.

The LSA is a centre for excellence. We have secured professional body recognition from the ARB and RIBA, and the QAA has stated that our programme fulfils the requirements of the UK Quality Code. In May 2018 the LSA secured Specific Course Designation for its Professional Diploma from the Department of Education and as part of this process the School had to provide assurance to HEFCE through, for example, audited accounts, of its financial credibility and sustainability.

The LSA considers and mitigates a range of potential risks through a comprehensive risk register which is reviewed on a regular basis by the Board of Trustees’ Audit Committee. There are associated business continuity plans as appropriate.
The First Year of the LSA Professional Diploma in Designing Architecture includes a work placement with a practice in our London Practice Network, which is compulsory for students to complete in order to progress into Second Year. We are therefore reliant on relationships with industry and have put in place additional capacity within our Practice Network to provide an appropriate level of opportunity for practice placements for our students.

The LSA undertakes a process of due diligence on prospective members of the Practice Network before they start to provide placement opportunities for our students. The LSA has in place a formal Practice Agreement in relation to student placements and a copy of this agreement can be found in Appendix 16 of the Institutional Handbook.

The Second Year of the programme is delivered in studio space through a leasing arrangement, currently at 141A Mare Street, Hackney. Such leasing arrangements are covered by normal contractual arrangements and the contractual terms are scrutinised by the LSA’s lawyers to ensure that they afford the maximum protection and flexibility.

The LSA is familiar with a range of alternative options for studio space in London should it need to enter into a new arrangement because, for example, it wishes to enlarge the space available as a result of planned student number expansion or in the event of any emergency in relation to the existing premises.

The LSA’s Professional Diploma is validated by London Met and has been recognised by both architectural professional bodies – ARB and RIBA. As a prescribed course there are professional body limitations to the changes that can take place to the course; in addition the University’s quality processes determine how any changes might be made to the course.

There is a formal Course Level Agreement between the LSA and the University that sets out these requirements. The content of the course is therefore very secure and the LSA has an experienced pool of staff to deliver the course. The LSA can add to this pool, if necessary, through established networks within the sector.

The LSA believes that its financial and educational models for the delivery of, and operational support for, its Professional Diploma are both durable and robust and that the risks for its students in any failure to meet its commitments are very low.

To develop our robustness, we have instituted a strong financial governance structure overseen by experienced and qualified professionals, both at the level of the Board of Trustees and through the LSA’s executive management. Details of Trustees and Executive managers can be found on the LSA website – http://www.the-lsa. org/people/

The school takes out into account its liabilities for the financial implications of mitigating against non-continuation of study in its annual budget. For the purposes of financial budgeting the LSA has undertaken significant scenario planning of how the course could be closed while protecting the interests of students. We are confident enrolled students could complete the programme without significant disruption within the current cash position of the school.

This is reinforced by the fact that the Professional Diploma is the only course offered by the School and it is therefore its absolute and singular focus. The LSA also founded itself on the principle
of using the city as the campus, being ‘itinerant’, and able to seek opportunities around the capital city. The School views this as a significant strength as it provides for a flexibility and nimbleness in a changing environment that is often missing from larger institutions.

While we assess the risks of any disruption to our students’ programme of study or wider learning experience to be very low it is both prudent and responsible for us to identify what we would do if significant problems or changes were to materialise in the LSA’s operation. These are set out below.

What type of events will prompt this student protection plan?

This plan will be triggered if:

  • we decide to discontinue the Professional Diploma in Designing Architecture
  • we decide to change the city in which the programme is taught
  • we can no longer provide the course to you for any other reason, for example, we cease operating through no choice of our own or we lose the right to provide the course or qualification, such as the loss of accreditation
  • we lose or need to change validation from London Met
  • we decide to vary the way the course is delivered significantly we decide to cease operating altogether

We retain the right to make minor adjustments and improvements to course, programme and module content year on year, and these in themselves do not warrant the triggering of student protection measures. Course changes are discussed at the Course Forum, which is open to all students, and the student voice is central to enhancing the programme on an annual and ongoing basis.

The LSA also founded itself on the principle of using the city

as the campus, being ‘itinerant’, and able to seek opportunities around the capital city. From time to time, the studio may move to a different location within Greater London, and this does not warrant triggering the Student Protection Plan.

However, if you feel the course as delivered varies significantly from what you expected, you may be able to seek recourse under consumer or contract law.

Student Protection Measures

If we decide to significantly vary the delivery of the programme, close the programme or leave London, or if the LSA closes altogether, we will take one or more of the following measures to protect your continuity of study:

  • whenever possible, we will make arrangements to ‘teach out’ current students where we have voluntarily decided to leave the market or close the course. This means that we commit to ensuring the course of study can be completed by all currently enrolled students, even though the course is being discontinued and we will not be taking on new student cohorts.
  • the Professional Diploma in Designing Architecture is an award of London Met. The LSA selected London Met as our validating partner because they have a strong architecture school at the Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, which is based in central London. The Cass also offers its own RIBA Part 2 course. In the event of the closure of the LSA’s campus or programme, the contractual arrangement with the University provides scope for LSA students enrolled on the Professional Diploma to transfer to London Met to complete their studies.
  • we will also support you in seeking another provider and continuing your studies with them, using student transfer arrangements. In these circumstances, we will provide you with a transcript of modules completed and a description of the modules completed including their role in accreditation from the professional bodies. We commit to providing you with this information within 15 working days. If you are entitled to an exit award because you have completed the required modules, we will work with the University to confirm that award within the same timescale.

If we need to change the validating partner for the programme, we will consult students about the new arrangements. Our contract with London Met has a 12-month notice period, which allows for new arrangements to be seamlessly put in place to ensure continuity. All these measures have been evaluated and tested and we are confident that they are viable. We will take into consideration the needs of all our students, including those with mobility considerations or special educational requirements. Measures contained in the plan may be brought into play at any time, if, for example, by doing so would reduce the impact or likelihood of any interruption to students’ studies.

 

Refunds and compensation policies

It is the LSA’s expectation, as indicated in section 2 above, that it will be able to teach out the Professional Diploma or facilitate transfer to London Met or another institution. If this cannot be achieved, or if other circumstances exist where a refund of academic fees is appropriate, a refund will be made in accordance with the refund policy set out in the LSA’s Refunds and Compensation Policy (which can be found by clicking here or in the Institutional Handbook). Further advice can be provided by the LSA’s Operations Director.

As our validating partner, the Cass at London Metropolitan University, is also based in inner London and also offers a Professional Diploma at Part 2 Level that would facilitate the continuation of study for our capped cohort size of 40 in the event of the LSA’s market exit, our evaluation has not identified any students with an increased risk of non-continuation of study.

All claims for additional costs incurred from any teach out arrangements will be considered on a case-by-case basis taking into account the circumstances of individual students and the degree of change to which they are subject. The LSA will seek to ensure that no student is disadvantaged from a change to their location of study or course provider, as a result of a change to your contractual agreement with the LSA. More information can be found in the LSA’s Refunds and Compensation Policy (which can be found by clicking here or in the Institutional Handbook).

Notification, advice and support

We will notify you of any changes which may affect your studies in a timely manner. Should the Student Protection Plan need to be triggered, you will be notified by the Operations Director. We commit to contacting you at least one month prior to the intended dates of course change or closure. All staff will also be made aware of the implications of the Student Protection Plan inclusive of any major programme changes.

Advice and support will be offered in the first instance by the LSA’s Programme Coordinator. Additional, independent, advice and support are available from Dr Wendy Bloisi, Head of Partnerships and Employment Outcomes at the Cass, London Met (w.bloisi@londonmet.ac.uk).
Our student protection plan will be available to current and future students via our website and course documents.

Our student protection plan will be reviewed on an annual basis and we will consult our students on any revisions through discussion in the Course Forum.

What can I do if I have a complaint?

If you are not content with the proposed outcomes, they can raise the issue with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, at http:// www.oiahe.org.uk/.

If you have any immediate views, concerns, questions or feedback in relation to this plan, please contact the Operations Director, Stephanie Rice, on stephanie@the-lsa.org.

 

Additional information:

Provider’s name: London School of Architecture (LSA) Provider’s UKPRN: 100062810

Legal address: 141A Mare Street, London, E8 3R
Contact point for enquiries about this student protection plan: Stephanie Rice, Operations Director