News and Press Releases


Landmark in reviewing student complaints

New legislation passed today (26 March) will extend the rights of higher education students to seek independent review of complaints and academic appeals.

The Consumer Rights Act brings further education colleges and sixth form colleges offering higher education, and private providers of higher education in England and Wales, into membership of the OIA.

Commenting on the change, Rob Behrens, the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, said:

“The change in the law means that, from September, a student’s right to complain when things go wrong will not depend on where he or she is studying.  For the first time in the ten years of the OIA, this opens the door for students  who were previously excluded from raising issues simply because they had chosen to attend a college or private provider. This is an important development for students and for higher education providers, which will be able to draw on expertise in managing student complaints.”


Public trust and the ombudsman - 10th anniversary series

The OIA has published 'Public Trust and the Ombudsman: the case of the OIA’, written by the Independent Adjudicator, Rob Behrens.

Developing Complaints Handling

The Independent Adjudicator, Rob Behrens, has outlined the history and future challenges for handling student complaints in a new article, published this month in the journal of the Association of University Administrators, Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education.

The article, 'Sailing on the Boundless and Bottomless Sea', explores the growth in student complaints and the steps taken in universities and by the OIA both to learn from and improve complaints handling. It draws comparisons with other sectors, including the NHS and the press, to consider key principles of independence, fairness, transparency and a commitment to early resolution that 'guide the day-to-day work of institutions, students’ unions and the OIA alike in keeping students on an even keel on the stormy seas of higher education.'

To view the final published version please go the publisher's website, or you can download the author's manuscript.

Good practice framework

The OIA has published the good practice framework for handling complaints and academic appeals.

You can view the web version of the good practice framework or download it as a pdf.

Good practice framework
12 December 2014 - pdf

Judicial review

The judicial review of a claim brought by a former student at the University of Leicester has now concluded.

Public interest cases

The OIA has published a number of case examples showing how different universities have handled complaints and academic appeals from students relating to disability/ill-health and to academic misconduct. You can view this on the public interest cases page.

OIA Annual Letters 2013

Today the OIA has published the Annual Letters for 2013 for all scheme members. These can be viewed and downloaded on the Annual Letters page.

OIA Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Statement

The OIA has made a statement on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC's).

OIA Annual Report 2013

Rob Behrens, the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education in England and Wales, has today (12 June 2014) published his Annual Report for 2013.

OIA Annual Report 2013
12 June 2014 - 1.06Mb

Good Practice Framework - Consultation

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) has today opened a consultation on draft new guidelines to improve the way that universities deal with student complaints and academic appeals.
The guidance has been drawn up by a working group, chaired by the OIA and bringing together the National Union of Students with university bodies, the Academic Registrars’ Council, the Association of Heads of University Administration and the Quality Assurance Agency.
The draft framework sets out a three stage process with clear timeframes and advice on recording and learning from complaints. The creation of a framework follows recommendations from the NUS, proposals in the 2011 White Paper and the OIA’s Pathway 3 consultation on early resolution in complaints handling, published in 2012.

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) has opened a consultation on draft new guidelines to improve the way that universities deal with student complaints and academic appeals.

You can respond to the consultation online or download a response form and email it to

To view older News and Press Releases by the OIA, please go to the News Archive.