The OIA launched a second round of consultation for the Pathway Report at the end of 2010 with a closing date in February 2011. The second round of consultation attracted a high response rate (152 submissions).
The OIA consulted on three key issues:
- Publication relating to Formal Decisions
- Appointment of an additional student 'voice' to the OIA Board
- Foundation Degrees owned by Further Education Colleges
The outcome of the consultation is below:
Students' union submissions favoured the publication of summaries of all Formal Decisions, although some acknowledged the resource implications of this option. There was a noticeable movement in university opinion, with a small majority supporting the OIA preferred option of publishing summaries of a limited number of individual Formal Decisions by name of university. Here, decisions about which cases to publish would be taken using a public interest test along the lines set out in the consultation (see above) and any publication would be made only after compliance (where it is required) has been established. The published summaries would exclude the names of complainants and of university staff.
The OIA will from January 2012 adopt this preferred policy option on publication of summaries of Formal Decisions by name of university. This development will take place in tandem with the decision to publish, to universities, and on its website, an annual letter to each university documenting a summary record of its complaints handling.
The twin imperatives behind the consultation were the need to create proportionate publication arrangements which generate further user and stakeholder confidence and trust in the Scheme without diverting significant and precious resource from the core activity of adjudication. I am clear that the publication of limited numbers of Formal Decision summaries, together with an annual recording of complaints outcomes, meets these imperatives. The consultation has been extremely valuable in alerting the OIA to a range of issues – university reputation, cost, dangers of increased litigation – which need to be addressed in devising detailed arrangements. These are currently being worked on, and the new publication arrangements will be in operation from 1 January 2012. A draft Publication Protocol will be published later this year.
The OIA proposals for an additional student member on the Board are widely supported and the consultation showed such proposals have the backing of the sector. We will be advertising this additional position before the end of September.
There was widespread support for the OIA to accept complaints from students studying for Foundation Degrees owned by FE Colleges. This sentiment fits in well with the policy direction of the Higher Education White Paper and there will be relevant consultation on funding mechanisms later in the year