Growing numbers of students are lodging official complaints against their universities if they fail to obtain a top-level degree.
More are contacting the universities' official watchdog, blaming the standard of teaching they received for their failure to achieve a first (1:1) or 2:1 degree pass.
The trend, reflecting a mood among some students that rising fees mean they are effectively buying a degree, is expected to spread in the autumn when universities begin charging up to £9,000 a year.
However, Universities Secretary, David Willetts, who revealed the rise in complaints during a lecture to the right-wing think-tank Politeia yesterday, insisted: "They're paying for higher education – they're not paying for a degree. One of the increasing areas of complaints is students saying: 'I've got a 2:2 when I should have got a 2:1 – they've let me down.'"
The students' concern stems from many potential employers no longer looking at candidates who have lower than a 2:1 degree.
Not all disgruntled students will qualify for an official investigation by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. To do so, they have to satisfy the OIA that they have exhausted the internal appeals procedures of their university.
Mr Willetts rejected a suggestion that the Government should be increasing student numbers at a time of recession.
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