When is my complaint closed?
The OIA closes the complaint
- if we decide it does not fall within our Rules (it is not eligible)
- when we issue the Complaint Outcome or, if we have made Recommendations, when those Recommendations are finalised
- if the complaint is settled, withdrawn or terminated before the end of the review process
A student may withdraw his or her complaint at any time.
I’ve been told my complaint is not eligible – what can I do next?
If we decide that we cannot look at your complaint, we will write to you and the provider and tell you why not.
You have the right to appeal this decision if you think we have made an error or misunderstood. If you wish to do so, you should write to your case handler within 14 days of the decision. The appeal will be considered by a different case handler or a manager.
I have received a Complaint Outcome with recommendations – what happens next?
You can comment on the practicality of the recommendations we have made before they are finalised. The form setting out the recommendations has space for you to make comments on them. You should send the comments to your case handler by the date set out in the covering letter.
The HE provider has made me an offer – what should I do?
When the provider makes an offer we will check whether the offer complies with our recommendations. If it does not, we will ask it to reconsider its offer and we will let you know.
If the provider’s offer does comply with our recommendations then you have to decide whether or not to accept the offer. You have a limited period – normally two months – to make this decision.
We cannot give you advice about whether or not to accept the offer. You have the choice as to whether or not to accept the OIA’s decision, and agree to any Recommendation we make. Providers normally comply with our Recommendations by making an offer “in full and final settlement of the complaint”. This means that, if you accept the offer, you would not be able to take legal proceedings against the provider about the same issues. However, if you do not accept the OIA’s decision, then your participation in the OIA process does not prevent the possibility of seeking redress through court proceedings
What happens if provider does not comply with the OIA’s recommendations?
Where we recommend that a provider makes an offer to the student we will usually ask the provider to send us a copy of the offer letter so that we can check it, and to let us know whether the student accepts the offer. Where we recommend that the provider reviews or changes its procedures we will usually ask the provider to report back to us within a specified time.
We expect providers to comply with our Recommendations on Justified and Partly Justified cases fully and within the timescale we give. We follow up compliance with our Recommendations. If you think that the provider has not followed our Recommendations, you should contact us. Sometimes there are unforeseen delays or practical difficulties with implementing our Recommendations.
If the provider fails to comply with our Recommendations we have a protocol which we follow. Non-compliance is considered to be a serious matter and is reported to the Board and published in our Annual Report.
The OIA recommended that my provider should reconsider my case and I am unhappy with the outcome
If we make a Recommendation to the provider to reconsider your appeal or complaint, and you are unhappy with the outcome of that reconsideration, you may be able to bring a new complaint to us. The provider should send you a Completion of Procedures letter at the conclusion of its processes. Your new complaint to us must relate to the provider’s reconsideration of your case, rather than to the matters which we have already reviewed.
I think the OIA has made a mistake in the Complaint Outcome – or I have new evidence – what can I do?
We may reopen our review if we decide that there is good reason to do so. We will only do this if new evidence is submitted to us which could not have been obtained at an earlier stage, or we find that there is an error in the Complaint Outcome which would make a difference to our decision (Rule 8.2).
We will normally consider such a request provided that it is brought within 28 days of either the issue of the Complaint Outcome, or the date that confirmation of the Recommendations has been sent to you and the provider. You will need to persuade the OIA either that there is new evidence which could not reasonably have been obtained at an earlier date, or that there is a substantive error in the Complaint Outcome.
If you have new evidence, you will need to explain why it was not possible to obtain and submit that evidence before the Complaint Outcome was issued. It is unlikely that we would consider at this late stage new medical evidence which you say is relevant to your complaint. However, we may consider evidence which was in the possession of the Provider but which had not been disclosed to you.
A “substantive error” is a mistake in the Complaint Outcome which would make a difference to the decision or Recommendations made.
If we have upheld a complaint and made Recommendations, and the Provider has complied with those Recommendations, then we will take that into account in any subsequent review. If the Provider has made an offer to the student in accordance with our Recommendations and you have accepted that offer in full and final settlement then it is very unlikely that we would agree to reopen the review. You may be asked to repay any financial award to the Provider before the review could continue.
I want to take further action
The OIA’s decisions and processes can be challenged by Judicial review.
“Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
In other words, judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.”
Before you bring a claim for Judicial Review, you need to follow the “Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review".
Please note that claims must normally be brought promptly, and within three months of the decision or action being challenged. We strongly advise you to seek specialist legal advice before instituting legal proceedings. You can find more information about judicial reviews involving the OIA on our website.
You may also be able to bring a claim for Judicial Review or take other legal proceedings against your provider, but you will need to do so promptly – normally within a month of the OIA’s decision.
I am unhappy with the way the OIA has handled my complaint
If you are not happy about the way we have handled your complaint, please first tell the person who dealt with your case so that they can respond to your concerns. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, further information about how to complain about our service is available on our website.