Helping us review your complaint

Helping us review your complaint

The OIA is committed to providing a good service to everyone who brings a complaint to us. We will keep you informed throughout the process, collect relevant information, share that information with you, and try to answer queries you have.

We rely on the cooperation of everyone involved to help us complete our reviews as effectively as possible. There are a number of things that you (or your representative) can do to help us to review your complaint:

Submit your complaint as soon as you can

If you submit your complaint to us as soon as possible after the final decision is made by your Higher Education Provider, that will help us when gathering information to complete our review. If we find that things have gone wrong, it is likely to be easier to put them right if you have brought your complaint to us promptly.

If you call us

If you contact us by telephone please have your reference number to hand and any other information you might want to refer to. If you are contacting us for the first time, please take a few minutes to read our website first, and be ready to answer questions about where you are studying, the type of course and award you are/were studying towards, and what steps you have taken so far to pursue your complaint. We will ask you for some details so we can keep a record of your enquiry in case you contact us again.

Explaining your case

Complaints can be complex and upsetting and we understand that it can be difficult to explain them to someone else. Try to explain your complaint, or the point you are making, in a way that someone who is not familiar with your particular course of study will understand. Try to include the important points in a methodical way, answering all the questions you can. Choose any supporting information carefully bearing in mind that we will also ask for information from your Provider. We take care to consider all the information you and your Provider give us but our review may take longer if you provide a lot of information which is not relevant to our review or there is a lot of duplication.

Please try not to send us a lot of detailed or sensitive information about other people (for example, information about other students on your course; or a family member’s medical history).  If we need this information, we will ask you for it.

We understand that you may feel anxious, upset or angry about your experiences. We ask that you try to stay calm when getting in touch with us; this will help us to understand your complaint. Please let us know if you are disabled or have a condition that affects your ability to communicate with us. We can find the best way to gather and share information with you. Further information about some of the adjustments we can offer can be found in our Accessibility Adjustments document.

Avoiding delay

Together we can reduce the time it takes to consider a complaint. We may need to ask you for information, evidence or comments when we consider your complaint. Usually the sooner you can reply, the quicker our review will progress. We will normally ask you to reply by a certain date, but if you need more time then please let us know as soon as you can.

Keeping us informed

If your circumstances change, for example your complaint is resolved or you change your contact details, please let your Case-handler or the Casework Support Team know (telephone 0118 959 9813 or email You will need to write to us if you think your complaint might need prioritising - please include any relevant evidence to support your request.

What we will try to do

At each stage of our review we will explain what is happening or what we need from you, any decisions we have made and the reasons for them. Sometimes the decisions that we reach, or the answers that we can provide, are not the ones that a student (or Higher Education Provider) might expect or want. We hope that our explanation will be clear but if you still have queries please contact the case-handler or a member of the Casework Support Team (telephone 0118 959 9813 or email

We will always try to deal with complaints as quickly as possible but each case-handler will be responsible for several cases that they are reviewing at any time. These can take some time to review and we are not always able to provider a quick decision or instant response. The Casework Support Team can answer most general queries but you may need to be patient while a case-handler carefully reviews all the information provided before we can respond in greater detail.

MyOIA, our secure online portal for providers and students (and their representatives) provides an easy and intuitive way to submit a complaint and track the progress of your case. This is a quick and easy way to check for progress or if correspondence has been received.

And finally …

We know that many students who come to us have experienced difficult circumstances, and bringing a complaint can be stressful and upsetting. We hope that this guidance will help you to engage with our processes in a way that minimises this. For a small number of people, the stress of bringing a complaint may lead them to behave in a way which might have an impact on our ability to carry out our work effectively. Further information about what we do in these circumstances can be found in our Behaviour policy.