Governance of the OIA

Governance of the OIA

The Higher Education Act 2004 established an independent Scheme to adjudicate on student complaints against universities in England and Wales. The OIA, which operated a voluntary Scheme from March 2004, became the Designated Operator of the student complaint scheme under the 2004 Act in January 2005. The OIA is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, governed by its Memorandum and Articles of Association. The OIA is also a registered Charity, under the supervision of the Charity Commission. The OIA subscribes to the Nolan Rules of fair and open competition in Board appointments.


The OIA has the duties of a Designated Operator under the 2004 Act to publish the Scheme Rules and supply relevant information to the appropriate UK and Welsh Assembly Government Ministers. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own separate arrangements.

Board of Directors

The OIA is overseen by an independent Board. The duties of the Board include a duty to preserve the independence of the Scheme and of role of the Independent Adjudicator.

Independent Adjudicator

The remit of the Independent Adjudicator is to adjudicate any complaints referred to him or her by any HEI which has been admitted to the Scheme or any eligible complainant.

The Independent Adjudicator is appointed for a maximum of eight years, divided into a first term of five years and second term of three years. The Independent Adjudicator is also the Chief Executive of the OIA.

Membership of the Scheme

The Act makes it clear that the “governing bodies of qualifying HEIs have a duty to comply with the Scheme Rules”. Qualifying Institutions under the Act include all publicly funded HEIs in England and Wales. These HEIs are required to join the Scheme. Non-Qualifying Institutions may join voluntarily.