EU ADR Entity
The OIA is listed by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) as a consumer ADR body. A consolidated list of ADR entities can be found https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr/main/index.cfm?event=main.adr.show.
This page sets out the information the OIA is required to publish as an ADR entity.
The European Commission’s Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform can be accessed here http://ec.europa.eu/odr.
Our annual reports to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) can be accessed here.
The OIA contact details
Second Floor, Abbey Gate
57-75 Kings Road
0118 959 9813
Our contact details can also be found on our Contact Us page (/contact-us/address-and-telephone-number.aspx).
The following OIA staff roles address disputes
- Casework Administrator (8)
- (Snr) Case-handler (11)
- (Snr) Assistant Adjudicator (22)
- Casework Support Manager (1)
- Adjudication Manager (5)
- Head of Adjudication Team (1)
- Head of Assessment and Resolution team (1)
- Deputy Adjudicator (1)
- Independent Adjudicator (1)
This list was correct as of 8 August 2016.
The Independent Adjudicator and Chief Executive is appointed under the Nolan Rules of fair and open competition. The current Independent Adjudicator was appointed on a five year basis, renewable for three years.
All other case handling staff members are appointed through competitive recruitment exercises (internal and/or external).
Membership of networking bodies
The OIA is a member of the Ombudsman Association and of the European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education (ENOHE).
The OIA Scheme
The OIA reviews complaints from students who are or were registered at a member higher education (HE) provider. We deal with complaints from students against qualifying HE providers as defined in the Higher Education Act 2004. The HE providers covered are in England and Wales, but we review complaints from UK, other EU and international students at these providers.
The disputes we are competent to deal with include:
- Complaints which are related to academic appeals, assessments, progression and awards
- Complaints which are related to the course or teaching provision, facilities and supervision.
- Complaints which are related to disciplinary proceedings for non-academic offences.
- Complaints which are related to academic offences including plagiarism, collusion and examination offences.
- Discrimination and Human Rights Complaints where the student claims there has been any form of discrimination, including harassment, and where he or she claims his or her Human Rights have been breached.
- Financial Complaints relating to finance and funding: e.g. fees and fee status, bursaries and scholarships.
- Complaints relating to support services, e.g. counselling, chaplaincy, assistance for international students, accommodation issues and welfare.
There are no financial thresholds to bringing a complaint.
The OIA procedure
The OIA is a transparent Scheme which is free to students. We normally review complaints which have completed the member HE provider’s internal procedures. We share all documentation with both parties before reaching our Decision.
The OIA reviews complaints to determine whether they are Justified, Partly Justified or Not Justified
For further information about our process please see Introduction to the OIA for Students.
The grounds on which we might refuse to deal with a dispute
Our Rules and our guidance note on Eligibility and the Rules set out the complaints which we can and cannot look at.
In summary, the OIA Scheme does not cover a complaint if:
- it concerns admissions to a member HE provider;
- it relates to a matter of academic judgment;
- the matter complained about is or was the subject of court or tribunal proceedings and those proceedings have been concluded or not been stayed;
- the matter complained about was previously considered by another ADR Entity;
- it concerns a student employment matter;
- in the opinion of the Reviewer the matter complained about does not materially affect the complainant as a student;
- it is made by the personal representatives of a student and the OIA had not received a Complaint Form during the student’s lifetime;
- dealing with the complaint would seriously impair the effective operation of the Scheme; or
- in the opinion of the Reviewer the complaint is frivolous or vexatious.
The OIA will not consider a complaint unless the completed Complaint Form is received within 12 months from the date upon which the member HE provider has given notice to the student of its final decision on the complaint or appeal.
In addition, the OIA will not normally consider a complaint where it considers that the substantive event(s) complained about occurred before the member HE provider became a member HE provider unless, in the opinion of the Reviewer, the event(s) formed part of a course of conduct which continued after the member HE provider became a member HE provider.
The OIA can accept/conduct complaints in English or Welsh.
Principles of complaint handling
When reviewing a complaint the OIA will consider whether a provider followed its rules and regulations and whether the outcome was reasonable in all the circumstances, having regard to the relevant law, codes of practice and guidance.
Requirement to meet
There is no requirement to meet before initiating or as part of the review of a complaint.
The student must normally first complete the member HE provider’s internal procedures before bringing a complaint to the OIA.
Withdrawal of complaint
The student can withdraw the complaint at any time during the review process and is not obliged to accept the OIA’s Decision. The member HE provider is not able to withdraw from the process and is required by the Scheme Rules to accept any recommendations.
Is there a cost to the student?
The OIA Scheme is free for students to use.
Members of the Scheme are required to pay a core subscription fee and may also have to pay a case element Further details of this can be found on the website.
We may recommend that a provider pays a contribution to the student's costs but will not normally do so.
What is the average length of the review process?
The (mean) average time from first receiving a complaint form to closing a complaint is 82 days for domestic disputes and 89 days for cross border disputes (information last updated for period 9 July 2015 to 8 July 2016).
The ADR requirement to close all cases within 90 days of receipt of the complete complaint file was met in 100% of cases.
The legal outcome of the ADR process
We expect member HE providers to comply with our Recommendations fully and within the timescale we give. This may include making an offer to a student.
The OIA’s Complaint Outcome is normally its final decision. Students and HE providers may comment on any Recommendations before they are finalised. The OIA may reopen a review and issue a revised Complaint Outcome where it is satisfied there is good reason to do so and where, within a reasonable period of time after the issue of the Complaint Outcome: material new evidence is submitted which could not reasonably have been obtained at an earlier date, or there is reason to believe there might be a substantive error in the Complaint Outcome.
Providers have a good record of complying with our Recommendations and non-compliance is reported to our Board and published in our Annual Report.
Our decisions are not binding on a complainant. This means that the student can reject the decision, and any offer made by the provider, and pursue any other available remedy, including legal action. If the student accepts the provider’s offer, then he or she will not be able to take the complaint further. We cannot give advice to students on any further action they might be able to take because we must remain independent.
Oral or written means
Our reviews are normally conducted in writing. However, we may accept evidence orally, for example, by telephone, where it is appropriate to do so (for example, where a complainant has a disability which makes written communication difficult).